Engagement is more important than it seems. Engaged people really make the difference. Research shows that engagement has a great impact in a company’s performance: from innovation speed and retention to financial results (source: Towers-Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study):
When neither managers nor leaders are perceived as effective, only 8% of employees are highly engaged. Not unexpectedly, in companies where both leaders and managers are perceived by employees as effective, 72% of employees are highly engaged. Companies with effective leaders as well as managers can expect to have more highly engaged employees.Towers-Watson 2014 Global Workforce Study
- The engaged state for what people GIVE
- The disengaged state for what people GET
- The individual (“I have personal problems”). Although they are not necessarily related to the job, personal problems kill engagement. It’s important to be ready and alert: 1 person out of 7 has a serious personal problem every year.
- The work (“I don’t like the work I do”). Nobody loves every aspect of his/her job, but if you hate everything about it, engagement is impossible. Correct work assignments are critical.
- The supervisor (“I’m not recognized”). Show people you care. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, said T. Roosevelt.
- The organization (“I don’t believe in the company values”). Company values matter. Really.
This is a question I’m asked frequently: “Is is ok to let everybody propose anything during a problem solving session?” Mmm, absolutely! After some seconds, I typically get this other question: “But, isn’t it better to select the best ideas and concentrate only in those?”. Mmm, absolutely, again!
How is that? Because our brain thinks and develops ideas in a very special way. This is how it works:
Our brain benefits from this 2-phase process:
- Start promoting creative and divergent thinking. Everything is valid. No idea is forbidden (just for the records, this phase does not have to be a brainstorming session necessarily, there are multiple other ways of doing this and brainstorming might not be the best one). The intent here is to break the psychological or cognitive inertia: our brain feels comfortable and likes following common patterns and solutions that have worked in the past.
- Finish promoting practical and convergent thinking. Keep your feet on the ground. Calculate needed resources and evaluate possible barriers. The purpose here is to concentrate in those ideas that have the best effort/benefit ratio.
Like almost anything in life, a problem solving session is half technique and half art. A winning strategy in most cases is to use questions to facilitate the meeting (very similar to the coaching style). In all cases be sure that you follow the basic 3 rules of facilitation:
- Be challenging
- Be clear
- Be honest
After several posts on goal setting, I’ve found this post about a different type of goal setting exercise: the case when it is related to people development. Here it is:
It’s an interesting read about the most important part of any lean initiative: developing people. When working in this, forget about the classic H-Q-D-C set of metrics and focus on people development aspects. There are some different versions out there, all of which have many similarities. The one proposed in this case (using a weight losing program as example) is this:
- Behavioral goals: changing a specific action/routine. (e.g. “weight-loss friendly routines” like eat breakfast every day). These are routines you commit to, which are checked periodically.
- Competency goals: improving an ability. (e.g. enhancing the ability to make healthier choices when it comes to food and exercise) . They typically require gaining knowledge, practicing skills, and shifting perspectives.
- Outcome goals: accomplishments that move you toward your aspirations. (e.g. lose weight)
When teaching lean, it’s important to keep this in mind. People new to lean will need to know why the are learning/using it (e.g. what’s the purpose), will learn new skills on the way (e.g. root cause analysis) and most important, must use new routines (e.g. “go and see” when a problem happens) that must be checked periodically until the behavior has changed.