Employee Engagement: It’s All About the Relationship

Playing pillow fight

Employee engagement is a popular phrase in today’s business world. It is quite common for employees to expect more than just a paycheck when it comes to their work, and employers are struggling to figure out what they can do to meet these expectations.

I have a simple answer for you: human relationships.

positive human relationships

It’s really not that simple – if it was, everyone would do it. When it comes down to employee engagement initiatives, most programs fail because organizations forget to focus on human relationships, which I would argue are the building blocks of engagement.

work fun - positive human relationshipsThere are many different definitions of employee engagement, and they all revolve around a common theme: emotional commitment and attachment to one’s workplace and fellow employees. Engaged employees feel a profound connection and commitment to their company; they work with passion, they are loyal, and they are willing to go the extra mile.

workplace culture star fingersWhat separates those organizations with high levels of employee engagement and those with low levels of employee engagement? Culture.

Employees want to be hired and retained by organizations with exceptional workplace cultures. These cultures have many different aspects to them, but they often involve overall feelings of trust, contribution, inclusion, altruism, achievement, and happiness. These feelings are all derived from one thing: human relationships.

A 2016 survey by the Society of Human Resources Management revealed relationships in the workplace are top drivers of employee engagement. Respondents described how relationships in the workplace were vital to their overall engagement in the workplace. 77% believed their relationships with their co-workers influenced their engagement and almost the same number, 74%, believed their relationship with their immediate supervisor influenced their engagement.

This makes sense – if you enjoy the people you work with, the easier it is to enjoy going to work each day. If you don’t enjoy the people you work work with you likely experience the Monday Morning Blues on more days than Monday.

friend coffee

Do you have a best friend at work?

Gallup, a research-based, global performance-management consulting company, has conducted employee engagement research for over 30 years and the best friend question, “Do you have a best friend at work?” is one of the most controversial.

Gallup asks this question for one primary reason: performance. The research shows a “concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.” They give the example of women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work compared to those who don’t strongly agree: those who strongly agree are two times (63%) more likely to be engaged at work.

friend - helping hand - positive relationshipHolistically though, it’s becoming more acceptable to want and expect more than just a paycheck from work. As social beings, we want sense of accomplishment, value, and altruism from our work. If positive social/human relationships are missing from your workplace, chances are you feel less energized and motivated by the work you do – even if you are good at what you do. This leads to being less invested and possibly less productive.

51% of employees who strongly agree that their organization encourages close friendships at work (who rate this statement a 5 on the 5-point scale) are extremely satisfied with their place of employment, compared to just 19% of employees who disagree with that statement (by choosing a 1 or 2) – Getting Personal in the Workplace, Gallup

If 75% of employees agree relationships in the workplace influence their engagement, how do companies and management prioritize human relationships and make their workplace more relationship-centric?

Employee Engagement: Teamwork

Bonfyre describes how human relationships in the workplace are a result of how often people connect and communicate (interaction) and how much people have in common (relatedness). Organizations, leadership, and managers are relationship-centric when they set up their work environment for their employees to become best friends. This is done by increasing the ability to interact with other employees, which may lead to a discovery of what the employees have in common. As Bonfyre describes, best friends are a product of high levels of interaction and relatedness.

You typically can’t discover what you have in common with someone (relatedness) without interacting with them first. Companies looking to become more relationship-centric need to focus on giving their employees the opportunity to interact with each other.

How?

1. Step away from the computer.

Instead of sending an email, take the opportunity to go speak to the recipient in person. It’s been said that 93% of communication is nonverbal. If this is the case there is a high chance that a miscommunication may occur if you only communicate via text-based means.

in-person meeting

2. Invest in technology that promotes social relationships such as video chat software and/or collaboration software.

If you must communicate in ways that are not in-person, invest in video chat or collaboration software that will enable your employees to interact on a more personal level. Of course emails and phone calls are a popular communication means, but you can make it more personal by providing a different social element.

invest in technology

3. Gratitude.

There is no such thing as too much gratitude. The benefits of gratitude are numerous both in the professional world as well as in your personal life. In my article 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace, I describe how gratitude increases productivity, job satisfaction, and may increase feelings of psychological safety. It’s important to know your people: some may like public displays of gratitude, others may prefer a private thank you in the hallway.

happy grateful

4. Ask for employee input.

Have you heard of the Ikea-effect? This is the idea that if you help build something, you will love or value it more. If your employees feel heard and like their input matters, they will feel valued by the organization and their engagement can increase. Giving employees the opportunity to collaborate and co-create will promote positive relationship building, trust, and belonging.

employee input and diversity

5. Talk the talk and walk the walk.

When it comes to culture changes employees typically won’t buy-in or join-in until leadership and culture champions show they are dedicated to the change in culture. If you are genuine with your efforts to change the culture your employees will notice.

connecting dots/puzzle

Connecting the Dots

Employee engagement initiatives fail because organizations forget to focus on the basic building block of engagement: human relationships. Organizations promoting relationship building between employees gives employees opportunities to discover what they have in common with other employees. This discovery can lead to close friendships; possibly even best friendships. If an organization is looking to become more relationship-centric its leadership and culture champions must invest in face-to-face interactions, whether this is in-person or virtually, they must become comfortable expressing genuine gratitude on regular and consistent bases. When employees feel like their input is valued and considered they feel a deeper connection to their work, fellow employees, and organization. All of this is irrelevant if leadership and management don’t create and stick to patterns of behavior that is consistent with building a culture of trust, contribution, inclusion, altruism, achievement, and happiness.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement and improve positive workplace relationships, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on May 18th, 2018. See the full post here.

Why I Almost Quit Social Media: The Importance of Workplace Relationships

social media - positive workplace relationships

I almost quit social media because of work.

Social Media - Google - TechnologyI loved social media. I thought I did a good job keeping things private, that was, until someone at work told me he Googled me. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve Googled people before and I know recruiters/potential employers Google job applicants to learn more about them.

Why was this particular event different?

It was different because this person made me extremely uncomfortable in the workplace. He was above me in the workplace hierarchy and, looking back on it now, he used his status to influence when and how I did my work. He would request meetings lasting for hours, in his office, just the two of us, with the door closed. When one of my coworkers moved, he would ask me about her, he would tell me about the emails he sent her and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t emailing or calling him back.

He requested an early morning meeting, before anyone else was in the office. He said he Googled me.

He told me he found my wedding registry and asked to be invited to my wedding. He said he read through my entire Twitter (over 3 years of content) and wanted to talk about some tweets. He had written them down and brought them to the meeting. He wanted to know “more” about my family. He said he “thought he knew me before,” but “now feels like he knows me so much better.”

Questions

I felt sick. I felt like my privacy was more than invaded. It was violated. I felt like it was my fault.

He told me we didn’t have to talk about it if it made me uncomfortable. I told him it made me uncomfortable. He ignored my statement and proceeded to his questions, which were written down on multiple sheets of paper.

social media iconsI sat in his office, silent, until he said I could leave.

I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

The instant I escaped his office I took personal responsibility for the event and I decided to protect myself from this happening again. I Googled myself and went through the first 12 pages of Google results to see what I could find and remove; I deleted all social media accounts except for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram; I locked down those three remaining accounts; I deleted or disconnected from people I didn’t know very well; I deleted pictures; I deleted posts; I made things so private it looked like I almost didn’t have an online presence.

sad workI quit posting.

I became less connected to long-distance friends. My relationships with those outside my immediate circle began to dwindle. I became suspicious and distrusting of others, especially those I met at work.

This distinct experience significantly influenced my perception of safety in the workplace, and it was a key reason I refrained from building relationships in the workplace and in school for the next two years. I didn’t trust anyone, especially people who reminded me of the individual I described above.

After several years of going to work just to get paid and being the person who didn’t want to make friends or put significant effort into workplace relationships, I realized just because this happened to me in one workplace didn’t mean it would happen to me in every workplace.

The importance of workplace relationships

barrier and boundariesMost people are aware of boundaries. Even if they Google you, they don’t tell you they Googled you and they especially don’t start a discussion by pulling out a list of questions about things they read/found.

I realized I spent more time with people at work than with my family or non-work friends. This was my turning point. Workplace relationships are important, if not vital to the success of an organization, and if people work to build positive workplace relationships, workplaces can thrive. People don’t have to show up to work just to get paid. Those who do are likely not engaged and they may end up decreasing the overall level of engagement within an organization.

friend - helping hand - positive workplace relationshipThe Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) released survey results in 2016 that showed how workplace relationships are drivers of employee engagement.

77% of respondents indicated relationships with their coworkers influenced their engagement in the workplace and 74% indicated relationships with their immediate supervisor also impacted their level of engagement in the workplace. Along the same lines, Gallup, a research-based, global performance-management consulting company, has conducted employee engagement research for over 30 years. One of the most controversial questions Gallup asks is, “Do you have a best friend at work?”

Gallup repeatedly shows a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. Gallup uses the following example: women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).

Research shows employees seek out and stay with organizations with exceptional workplace cultures. While there are many different components to workplace culture, exceptional workplace culture is often characterized by overall feelings of trust, belongingness and inclusion.

trust, belongingness and inclusion.

We want our work to feel worthwhile and meaningful. Having trusted confidants and supporters helps foster those feelings. We go to our work friends when we need to celebrate and commiserate about both our personal and professional lives. In the absence workplace friendships, work can become lonely and isolating. It lacks attachments. Although we may like what we do and we may get to use our talents and strengths every day, if we don’t have positive workplace relationships or workplace friendships, we’re probably not feeling fully motivated to put everything into our roles.

If companies focus on creating relationship-centric workplaces they will allow employees to build quality relationships with one another. These quality relationships will strengthen business by increasing morale, employee retention, productivity, and teamwork.

Connecting the dots photo

Connecting the Dots

Lesson 1: Be prepared for someone you don’t know very well to Google you. You may even want to be prepared for them to tell you they Googled you AND for them to want to talk to you about it. If this happens, don’t go nuclear on your online presence like I did. If you disconnect from your online presence you may become distanced from important connections and opportunities. Don’t over react and determine all workplaces are equal and this will happen to you again (it hasn’t happened to me since).

Lesson 2: Positive workplace relationships are important to the functioning and overall success of a business. Research shows that those who report having a best friend at work are significantly more engaged in the workplace than those who don’t. Foundational feelings of contribution, trust, and altruism are all derived from one thing—human relationships. If positive human relationships are missing form a workplace, engagement will most definitely suffer.

Have you ever had something uncomfortable like this happen at work? How did you handle it?

Do you have a best friend at work? How does your friendship influence your perception of the workplace?

friend coffee

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement and improve positive workplace relationships, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on March 26th, 2018. See the full post here.

Employee’s Hierarchy of Needs, Part 3 of 3: Self-Fulfillment Needs

The top tier of the hierarchy of needs includes self-fulfillment needs.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs - self-fulfillment needs

In the first two parts of this series, Part 1: Basic Needs and Part 2: Psychological Needs, I described Abraham Maslow’s 1943 Theory of Human Motivation and the idea of a Hierarchy of Needs. As humans, we all strive to achieve our full potential and feel a sense of self-fulfillment. Before we can reach the highest level in our hierarchy of needs (self-fulfillment), we must first ensure our lower levels of basic (physiological and safety) and psychological (belongingness & love and esteem) needs are addressed.

employee basic and psychological needs

This same theory of motivation and a hierarchy of needs can be applied to employees in the workplace. In Part 1 I described how the physiological need equates to the need of adequate workspace and the safety need equates to security & stability in the workplace. In Part 2 I described how the belongingness & love needs convert to team camaraderie in the workplace and esteem needs match individual achievement in the workplace.

These basic and psychological needs must be met in the workplace before an employee can achieve a sense of self-fulfillment, or engagement & innovation.

Employee Hierarchy of Needs - self-fulfillment

If you address the first four levels of the employee’s hierarchy of needs, you’ve given your employees the tools they need to succeed and it’s likely they will have the potential to be truly engaged. By reaching the top level of the hierarchy, employees are given the opportunity to meet their self-fulfillment needs. Your employees will begin to feel a sense of ownership over their work and sense will empower them to continue working toward the greater good of the company while simultaneously inspiring those around them to do the same.

There will always be little things that go wrong, but employees who exist in the self-fulfillment tier of the hierarchy will be able to look past these things and focus on the work in front of them with intrinsic drive, passion, imagination, and creativity.

Once employees make it to the top tier of the hierarchy, it’s a lot easier for them to stay at this level and bring other employees with them. Employees at the self-fulfillment level inspire those around them and create a ripple effect of engagement. Their enthusiasm and attitude help others strive to operate at their same level and engagement becomes contagious.

It is important to remember that moving through the hierarchy of needs is fluid; we can always be bumped down to a lower level of the hierarchy and we can climb our way back to the top. This means we have to work through challenges and barriers to get back to the top, which can sometimes be difficult to deal with. However, once employees reach the top of the pyramid, it becomes much easier to get back there the next time around.

It is a long and difficult journey to help employees reach the top of the employee hierarchy. That’s why true employee engagement is so rare! According to Gallup, a research-based, global performance-management consulting company, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. After working through this hierarchy, it’s easier to understand why.

If only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged and exist at the top of their hierarchy, where does everyone else fall? About 67% of employees are considered “not engaged.” These employees likely have their basic needs met and are looking to meet their psychological needs. The remaining 18% fall into the “actively disengaged” category. These employees are probably struggling to have their basic workplace needs met.

The big challenge for employers involves identifying the “not engaged” employees. These employees are often the hardest to identify because they are usually relatively happy or satisfied in their role. They do the bare minimum and are not invested in their company’s mission, values, vision, or goals.

Connecting the Dots

When reviewing the hierarchy as a whole, the first two tiers of employee engagement are generally covered by compensation, stability, security, and benefits. Some workplaces need to address basic resources so employees can do their jobs (technology, temperature, workspace, etc.) but in general, the first two tiers should be easy to confront as an employer. In addition, our need for social interaction, friendship, and belongingness can at least be partially addressed while at work. It’s the last two tiers that can be the trickiest to address.

When it comes to individual achievement, each person is different in the way they want to be recognized or respond to motivation. This takes more effort on the employers side to individualize the experience for employees. The critical point (no pun intended) is the top level, self-fulfillment, which is the hardest aspect of employee engagement for most employers and organizations to achieve.

When organizations provide the tools, the education, the environment, and the stability, employees can realize their potential. They start contributing ideas, leading, and bringing others along for the ride by inspiring them to be better employees. Reaching the self-fulfillment level of engagement gives employees the opportunity to inspire others around them and perform optimally – which is not only best for your employees, it is best for business.

It is important to see engagement as a day-to-day experience that ebbs and flows. Engagement is not something that will happen overnight, and change is hard. Engagement should improve with time and dedication from all levels of an organization. If an organization focuses on the day-to-day experience, the benefits of achieving or striving for engagement will become evident.

Self-fulfillment needs

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on March 7th, 2018. See the full post here.

If you missed Part 1 on Basic Needs, you may read it here.

If you missed Part 2 on Psychological Needs, you may read it here.

*Credit to Zen Workplace and Health Links for the employee engagement hierarchical/framework concept.

 

Employee Hierarchy of Needs, Part 2 of 3: Psychological Needs

In my most recent Article, Employee Hierarchy of Needs: Part 1 of 3, Basic Needs, I described Abraham Maslow’s 1943 Theory of Human Motivation and the idea of a Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow proposed the concept that humans are motivated to attain certain needs (basic needs, psychological needs, and self-fulfillment needs), and some needs are prioritized over other needs (basic needs must be met before fulfilling psychological needs, etc.).

 

In Part 1, I described an employee’s basic needs in the workplace: workspace and security & stability.

When an employer meets an employee’s basic needs in the workplace, employees start to feel like they have an adequate workspace and are secure & stable in their job. With these basic needs met, employees can become successful and proficient in their job duties, and work with diligence and persistence. But doing a job proficiently and persistently doesn’t mean an employee is engaged. Now it’s time for psychological needs, team camaraderie and individual achievement, to be recognized and addressed in the workplace.

Psychological Needs #1: Team Camaraderie

Team CamaraderieMost of us spend at least 40 hours or more at work, which means we typically spend more time with our coworkers than anyone else in our life. The relationships we have within the workplace are critical to a successful and enjoyable work environment. We want to feel like we belong to the group and we need different types of relationships with other humans.

It is counterproductive for an employer, leader, or employee to discount the importance of positive workplace relationships. Have you ever heard someone say, “We are here to work, not make friends”? This approach sets an individual or organization up for failure because team camaraderie is vital to the success of an organization. Psychological safety, trust, a sense of belonging to a team, and positive workplace relationships are all things that must be promoted within a team in order for an organization to achieve the best organizational end result.

Why does team camaraderie come before individual achievement on the hierarchy? An individual can be successful and achieve on their own, but individual achievement does not always set a team up for greater success. If a team has one or more people focused on their own success and achievement over others, the team will not function as cohesively and successfully as they might if the individuals first feel accountable to their fellow members.

Getting the best result as a team requires collaboration with others before individual achievement. Zen Workplace uses Olympic athletes as an example: In many cases, Olympic athletes compete as individuals. But what drives the greatest individual performance? The connection to the team, the accountability to each other and the support from one another. Rarely does an individual athlete, who spent their time locked away in a gym training by themselves for years, come out on top. It is the same idea for the world of work.

team win

Think back to a time when you were on a dysfunctional team. What happened when one or more team members focused more on their individual achievement than the achievement of the group? How did that make you feel? Did you feel like they were trying to put their own achievement over your own? Did you become suspicious and lose trust? What was the outcome?

individual celebrationPsychological Needs #2: Individual Achievement

Once team camaraderie has been established, it is easier for an individual to focus on their own achievement. Our society and culture has trained us to be modest, and it is hard for most of us to express overt pride in our work. We don’t want to seem like a showoff, or like we are bragging. But, if organizations are to reach the next level of an employee’s hierarchy of needs, where employees feel engaged in their work, organizations must promote confidence, self-esteem, and pride among their employees. When employees lack pride or confidence in their individual contributions it is difficult for them to begin taking initiative and pursue their responsibilities and job duties with passion.

group celebrationWhen a team has a solid foundation of trust formed through their team camaraderie, individual achievement becomes something the team celebrates as a whole instead of feeling competitive, negative, and bitter. When you have genuine happiness and pride for your teammates’ accomplishments, the feeling of camaraderie is reinforced through positive feedback and gratitude.

altruismWhen your team cares about how their fellow members perform and achieve, they begin to feel like their own work matters to other people. They can begin to feel like they are making an impact. Individual team member achievement becomes so much more than the achievement itself. Instead of focusing on just the achievement, individuals begin to feel like they are contributing to the greater whole, something bigger than themselves. This sense of altruism promotes employee engagement.

Connecting the DotsConnecting the Dots

Promoting a work environment where the psychological needs of employees can be met is vital to the success of an organization. When organizations, departments, or individual teams lack team camaraderie and do not promote individual achievement, they will never have employees who are fully engaged. Unfortunately, it seems as though this is typical for many organizations worldwide. As I described in my article, How to Increase Employee Engagement: Treat Your Employees like They Matter, only about 15% of employees worldwide are engaged. Non-engaged employees lack the commitment and connection to their company that engaged employees feel. This lack of engagement may be a result of a cutthroat culture, or the idea that it’s every individual for themselves. The lack of support through team camaraderie and the difficulty expressing pride in their work may be one of the factors leading to this lack of engagement.

Have you experienced a work environment where you had great team camaraderie? Have you worked within an organization where you did not feel like people were jealous and bitter of your achievements? How did this influence your productivity and engagement in the workplace?

employee basic and psychological needs

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on February 23rd, 2018. See the full post here.

Please check the second article in this series, Employee Hierarchy of Needs, Part 3 of 3: Self-Fulfillment Needs.

If you missed Part 1 on Basic Needs, you may read it here.

*Credit to Zen Workplace and Health Links for the employee engagement hierarchical/framework concept.

How One Toxic Person Can Destroy Company Culture

toxic photo - poison

I saw someone once write on a social media post: as an employer, it’s hard to find someone who actually wants to work. No matter how much you praise them or do nice things for them they aren’t loyal to you in the end.

When I first read their comment, I cringed. As an employee, I wouldn’t want to work for someone with that type of mindset because I believe it sets them up for failure as an employer. If my employer believes I will not be loyal to them, no matter what they do, it makes me think they won’t do anything out of the ordinary to keep me around, which makes me feel less loyal to them. But, from an employer perspective, if you feel like you’ve been good to your employees and they leave anyway, how could you not feel this way?

On the other hand, as an employee, why is it so easy to remember the bad things (the bad bosses, the bad work situations, etc.) and so hard to focus on any of the good (or even okay) things?

frustrated

What if I told you there is scientific evidence backing up why our brains focus on the negative aspects of employment more than the positive? By no means is this breaking news; in an article published in 2001, titled “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” researchers describe how humans and other animals may be evolutionarily wired to react this way:

From our perspective, it is evolutionarily adaptive for bad to be stronger than good. We believe that throughout our evolutionary history, organisms that were better attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased probability of passing along their genes.

stacked papersTo make a point, the authors reviewed over 230 studies on the following topics: relationships, emotions, learning, neurological processes, child development, social support, information processing, memory, stereotypes, forming impressions, self-concept, feedback, and health to name a few.

The consistent factor between these 230+ studies revealed the impact of bad things is significantly worse than the power of good things. In other words: when one bad thing happens, five good things must happen to counteract the bad thing.

happy night - umbrella with lightsThe research suggests our desire to get out of a bad mood is stronger than our desire to get into a good one. Bad interactions, ones that feel unfriendly or conflictual, are interpreted in a stronger way. These bad interactions have bigger effects than equally friendly, nice, or harmonious ones. Thus, the bulk of our emotion regulation is directed at escaping from bad moods and negative emotions because bad moods and negative emotions have a stronger effect than good ones.

How does this apply to employees, bosses, managers, and organizations?

crazy papers flying

One bad apple can ruin it all. Bad things like negative emotions, abuse, dysfunctional acts (like intentionally slacking off), hostility, destructive relationships, and incompetence can ruin organizations striving to incorporate civility, competence, effort, and other kinds of “goodness” into their environment and culture. What can we do about this?

Employees:

As an employee, we must try to focus on the positive. Increasing our number of positive interactions will help us defeat the negative interactions. The researchers suggested it is possible for good to triumph over bad by sheer numbers. Many good events (at least five) can overcome the psychological effects of a single bad event.

happy gratefulUsing techniques from positive psychology, such as expressing gratitude can help us focus on positive interactions and experiences. Remember: a little kindness goes a long way.

We must also be self-aware. When employees are not self-aware, conflict in the workplace can be toxic and destructive. We need to take a conscious look at how we express ourselves at work and how we interact with others.

QuestionMost of the time, conflict is based on some underlying fear and is an issue of interpersonal, psycho-emotional dynamics. If we are self-aware, we can ask ourselves why we react a certain way, and if this reaction is supportive or limiting to our team, department, and organization. If we are honest with ourselves, this self-awareness and insight will allow us to view and improve the way we communicate and interact with others.

When we are self-aware, and those we work with are self-aware, workplace conflict can be minimal and constructive.

Bosses, managers, and organizations:

As someone in a leadership or management position, we must try to overpower the bad with good. This involves expressing gratitude to our employees on a regular basis and constantly assessing and evaluating our employees’ level of engagement.

When it comes to stopping a bad apple or a toxic employee, the first obvious thing to do is not hire them in the first place. However, this can be hard to do even with multiple rounds of interviews.

guard & protect

Dr. Robert Sutton gives a few suggestions on how we can defeat the toxicity in his article, “How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything.”

  • Screen employees in realistic job conditions. Bring candidates in for a day or two and give them a short job to accomplish. Watch not only their technical skills, but also their personality. How do they deal with setbacks? Do they know when to ask for help and to give others help? Is the candidate the kind of person they want to work with? Candidates with interpersonal weaknesses may be screened out using this process.
  • The best organizations make explicit their intolerance for bad apples; they spell out which behaviors are unacceptable in the workplace and act decisively to prevent and halt them.
  • There are times, of course, when an organization can’t—or won’t—remove a destructive personality. Maybe the person is a star as well as a bad apple, for instance, or is otherwise crucial to the operation. In such cases, leaders might try to use coaching, warnings and incentives to curb the toxic employee’s behavior. Another tactic is to physically isolate the bad apple.
  • Beware: Leaders who believe destructive superstars are “too important” to fire often underestimate the damage they can do.

Connecting the dots - 2
Connecting the Dots

Scientific evidence shows we are wired to focus on the bad instead of the good, which is why it is so easy for one toxic person to ruin a company’s attempt at instilling and promoting a culture of engagement.

From an individual standpoint, we should try to consciously focus on the positive and increase our self-awareness. From a managerial or organizational perspective, we need to openly value our employees and we should not tolerate toxic behavior. We need to clearly spell out unacceptable behaviors and their consequences, and we need to be willing to fight the bad so we may protect our employees from its destructive properties.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on November 9th, 2017. See the full post here.