Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tips to Engage Your Workforce

With more than 30 years of experience as a human resources executive, manager, and management consultant in a variety of organizational settings ranging from entrepreneurial to Fortune 100, Mark Herbert regularly shares his expertise on his blog, Twitter, and Focus. Currently, he is a Principal for New Paradigms, LLC, a management consultancy that helps companies effectively and successfully embrace change to engage their workforces. But Mark’s best business advice can be found in his book, Managing Whole People, One Man’s Journey.

If you want to transform your employees from being simply involved to being totally committed, Mark’s workforce stimulus plan, “Managing Whole People – the Process” is the roadmap to engage your workforce:

[1] Become a great listener
[2] Make time for your key employees
[3] Communicate workplace changes efficiently
[4] Walk the talk – make your actions consistent with your values
[5] Provide regular feedback
[6] Don’t hide behind email or the telephone
[7] Get feedback on you, and act on it

A memorable example emphasized job dedication. When Mark asked a supervisor who was taking a six-month sabbatical if she were interested in the job on a long-term basis, she answered yes. So Mark suggested that she “embrace the job as if she owned it” rather than going through the motions as just the job’s caretaker. How many times have we, as employees, gone through the motions of a job – only to wonder at the time of the annual review: why didn’t we receive a raise or a bonus? Now ask yourself, do you act as if you own your job each and every day? The answer might surprise you – but you shouldn’t be surprised when your next review takes place because you can make changes now.

Another example emphasized corporate culture. A man went to a hospital in Texas because he wanted to meet a famous heart surgeon. As the man left the hospital one evening during his visit, he met an elderly man who was mopping the floor. The man asked, “What do you do here at the hospital?” The elderly man replied, “Dr. DeBakey and I save lives together.” The elderly man explained that Dr. DeBakey had told all staff members that hospital infections kill more patients than disease, so the elderly man was doing his part to keep the hospital clean. Have all the employees in your company jumped on the bandwagon to support each other and work toward the same goal?

What does workforce engagement mean to you and your company? More importantly, what steps do your leadership team, management team, and human resources team all take to make sure that the culture allows for respect, responsibility, rewards, information sharing and open communication, and loyalty? If you cannot answer these questions, then you need Mark Herbert’s roadmap.

Follow Mark on Twitter:!/NewParadigmer


  1. Love the example of the hospital janitor! Perfect example of engagement. Though everyone's contributions may be different, they all work together for a common good.

    However, like social media engagement, employee engagement cannot be coerced, only fostered. I would also suggest that there will be varying levels of engagement throughout any organization. This does not have to deter the organization's mission if everyone is not "on board."

    Items number 1 and 2 on the roadmap are the most important. By listening, you will identify which employees are your "key" employees, meaning the most committed. These will be the ones that will "make it happen." The others will just be part of the plan, as long as they carry out their duties. Some just don't want "ownership." Seen it so many times. Sounds cruel, but it's true. I tend to agree with Seth Godin's "Linchpin" observation that there are some that will always be "factory workers."

    Additionally, creating an engaged workforce starts with the hiring process. If candidates are not "on board" with what you are trying to accomplish, they probably never will be, no matter how talented or experienced. Hiring for "fit," in terms of qualifications, culture, and commitment is the answer.

    Thanks, Debbie, for pointing out this book for reading. A timely and critical topic for sure!

  2. Thanks for recommending this Debbie, great post.

    This hits on the topic around recognizing the difference between having long term employees and truly loyal employees. A surprising number of senior managers don't know the difference, and more importantly, don't understand how important it is to recognize the difference!

    The janitor story also reminds me of the story of the janitor working for NASA in the 60s who described his job as being part of a team that was putting the first man on the moon. No idea if that story is true of course, but does make you wonder why so often these stories feature janitors? : )

    Thanks again,

    Michael Kerr,
    Humor at Work


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