Friday, 12 January 2018

What Home Alone can teach us about employee engagement.... (stick with me on this one!)

Christmas is upon us and everyone has a guilty pleasure at Christmas. For many born in the 1980’s-90’s, watching Home Alone would be it; without question, Macaulay Culkin’s most infamous work.

There are standout parts of that film for everyone. For me, it is the 5 minutes when Kevin rushes home from the church on Christmas eve. The Vienna Boys Choir’s rendition of Carol of the Bells is building up to a crescendo in the background, to which at that point, Kevin slams the front door and promises to defend his house. He lays his battle plan out on the top of a toybox and sets off creating a house full of innovative traps (I predict many will have tried to replicate this on unassuming siblings and parents). Upon completion of his preparation, he sits down alone at the end of the traditional family dining table, awaiting his evening meal and announces, “Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” Brilliant when you were watching it aged 8, still as good now, aged 35.

However, the reason why Kevin was left at home that Christmas in 1990, to me, mirrors so many reasons why talent may often be perceived as disengaged and a flight risk. To set the scene, it is manic in the McAllister household that Christmas. Kevin’s parents are hosting a huge family get-together on the eve of a major holiday abroad. There is too much going on and for that evening, they are too busy to pay close attention to all their children. This creates an environment in which things get missed and poor decisions are made. Following a series of events for Kevin of being overlooked, different, not being heard and not getting any pizza (a dangerous combination), a fight is provoked between Kevin and his older brother Buzz, resulting in Kevin being sent to his room.

Think about the modern-day line manager. We are finding, and many can empathise with, a work environment of increasing responsibility and the need to immediately satisfy the demands of others. Even with the best of intentions, this results in a lack of quality and regular ‘air time’ with the individuals within their team. Just how many missed opportunities and ideas are never heard or have not even surfaced because talent has not being listened to or has been misunderstood? Think of all the talent within businesses around the world, who leave their organisation because of the same reasons.

The modern workforce is cutting across demographics and cultural landscapes, and the evidence points towards the companies who are truly embracing it and not just ticking boxes, seeing significant increases in employee and customer engagement, and individual productivity. With that diversity will absolutely come an eclectic mix of individuals, some of which will be your organisation’s version of Kevin: quieter than others, uninfluential, quirky, or perhaps just slightly annoying. However, as the film plays out: resilient, dependable, intuitive, and brilliantly creative.

With the diversity of workplace teams ever-changing, there is an increased pressure on team leaders and line managers to dispose of their unconscious biases and develop their capability to understand each of their talent, at an individual level, by opening effective dialogue. As Victor Lipman rightly highlighted, “typical people leave managers not companies”. Talent too regularly get lost within organisations, especially the individuals who are no less high-performing, but are just slightly different. However, leaders who recognise, at a truly micro level, what drives each of their individual talent, will create the environment that allows every individual to perform at their best. This is not standalone. It is most critical to keep these conversations ongoing. What drives your talent at one stage of their career or just simply that point in time, will change as quickly as the world they are operating in.

In a brilliant recent article by John Eades, he interviewed Patrick Lencioni (author of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team) and asked him, "Why do people leave their manager?" and his answer was simple, yet profound: “If people don’t get what they need from their manager, they can’t possibly like their job and are eventually going to leave. At the end of the day, people need 3 things from their manager:
  1. To Be Known- Employees need to know their manager cares about them and is interested in their life
  2. Why Their Job Matters- People can’t stand to be irrelevant, so managers must help people understand why their job matters to the overall objectives of the team and money can't be it.
  3. Whether or Not They are Succeeding in Their Role- Every employee needs to know tangible and/or observable ways to assess whether they are being successful”

We are working with organisations to understand the well-being levels and key drivers of individuals; tracking how these change over time, and understanding the impact they have on performance, which makes for fascinating insight. While the data is interesting and the tech behind it is sophisticated, it is the simplicity of what the product does that is truly inspiring: enabling and developing managers by providing them with the tools to enhance the quality of coaching conversations between them and their talent, and allowing them to really understand each individual at a micro level.  This we know is the enabler to true and diverse employee engagement for the long term.

Open Blend is an online tool that supports people managers to have effective coaching-led one to ones that focus on well-being, key drivers (individual engagement) and performance.


Last modified on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 14:57

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