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This months Blog Post comes from Mindshop Colleagues Mark Buckland and Wayne Lockhart

In his highly acclaimed book ‘Good to Great’ Jim Collins suggests that employing, leading and managing engaged staff is like taking a bus trip. In doing so he outlined two philosophies related to how business owners get the best out of their people in helping them to achieve their goals.

The first suggests that business owners need to have clear direction as to where they are going and then select (or retain) the people most likely to help them get there. This means that planning related to target markets, sales, marketing, technology, and innovation should take place prior to decisions about who will be the best people to assist in the achievement of set goals.

This would mean that business owners need to decide where the bus is going and then get the right people on the bus to help them get to a prescribed destination. It raises the question that if people join the bus because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten kilometres down the road and need to change direction? It is highly likely that this will create a misalignment between the new direction of the bus and the skills, values, needs and aspirations of the ‘passengers’?

Collin’s extensive research has revealed an alternative strategy used by many successful businesses whereby they first decide who is going to be on the bus and then decide what direction the bus is going to take. In other words the right people will help you determine where you need to go and then help you get there.

This finding supports the belief that if you start with the type of people you need rather than where the business is going, your business will be able to adapt more readily to change. It also reinforces the fact that if you have the wrong people on the bus it won’t matter if you discover the right direction, you still won’t achieve your goals. As Collins states, “great vision without great people is irrelevant”.

Whatever philosophy you subscribe to as a business owner you still need to keep your staff highly engaged or they won’t produce the best possible results. There are seven (7) key elements to such engagement:

Leadership – It doesn’t matter that the direction of the bus changes over time as long as the business is not rudderless (a mixed metaphor) and staff are involved and communicated with in terms of the overall goals and targets of the business. (see Leadership Diagnostic in this issue of XceLerator).

Purpose – Greater meaning and job satisfaction is derived from the belief that our work serves a worthwhile purpose. This is what gives us a sense of achievement.

Recognition and Reward – All staff needs their efforts recognised. This may range from a pat on the back to staff award, pay rise or bonus. It is a clear signal that their work is needed, respected and makes a difference.

Opportunity – engaged staff need to feel that there is opportunity for their progress and development, both formally and informally.

Relationships – These can be both internal and external. The more positive the relationships with our fellow workers and our customers the better we tend to feel about our work.

Job Fulfilment – The work needs to be satisfying and meet their professional, emotional and intellectual needs.

Work-Life Balance – While work is an integral part of their lives, staff need to achieve balance and not feel that other important aspects of their lives are being consistently sacrificed because of their work circumstances.

If your staff are not “on the bus” and are not actively helping you to achieve your goals, you may do well to reflect on the seven key drivers of engagement and assess where you as the leader can improve the workplace dynamic. Mindshop facilitators have particular expertise in identifying productivity blockages and helping businesses to create more productive and rewarding workplaces.

Here is another interesting article that can help you improve your management skills.

If you have any commments or questions on this post feel free to contact me at jim(at)accountsplus(dot)ie