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Welcome to the April 2009 issue of Alignment Solutions! We have two major announcements this month. First, based on client feedback, we are pleased to introduce our newest service, On-call Consulting and Coaching. These services are designed for situations when a full-scale consulting or coaching engagement is not appropriate or desired. Contact us for details and to find out if this service is right for you.

Second, as you may know, Pat Lynch was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame last month. Members of this prestigious group are selected from the global participants in Dr. Alan Weiss's Private Roster Mentor Program. Of the more than 700 people who have participated in the program worldwide, only twenty individuals from diverse disciplines have met the criteria for membership. Complete information about the Hall of Fame criteria and members is available at www.summitconsulting.com/services/hall_of_fame.php.

Our new article series called Research News You Can Use selects findings of academic research that are applicable in the workplace, and suggests how you might implement them in your organization.

April Topic:Employee Voice: A Critical Element of Organizational Success

Premise: Employee "voice" can enhance workplace productivity through its impact on employee engagement, creativity, retention, and effectiveness. Learn specific ways of creating a win-win situation in your workplace.

This month's theme is "creating a positive work environment." The proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has caused near-panic in some organizations as employers wrack their brains to find a way to prevent it from becoming law. Such efforts are mis-directed: the law is not the primary issue. Instead, employers should focus on what they can do to ensure that their employees see EFCA as a moot point - i.e., they see no need for a third party to look out for their interests. I believe the law should be called Employer Free Choice Act because it provides an opportunity for management to choose how they want to interact with their workers in the future - i.e., either directly, or through employee-selected union representatives.

The Feature Article, "Employee Free Choice Act: An Opportunity for Employers," explains why management's best defense against the EFCA is a good offense. It argues that the real point is how you treat your employees every day, not whether this law (or any other) is passed.

In "Answering the EFCA's Wake-up Call: Ten Ways to Create a Motivating Workplace," the Business Solutions section suggests ten actions employers can take to create a work environment that inspires employees to perform their best.

In the Personal Solutions section, "Ten Ways that Business Solutions Can Enhance Your Personal Quality of Life" shows how to use the ideas for creating a motivating work environment for enriching the quality of your non-work life.

I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!

 

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Employee Free Choice Act: An Opportunity for Employers

The proposed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) that is before the U.S. Congress is sending chills down the spines of many employers. Feeling threatened by the prospect that they soon could be bargaining with unions instead of dealing directly with their employees, and fearing the possibility they will have to live with a contract imposed by a panel of arbitrators, and/or be subjected to penalties for which there are no union equivalents, it's no wonder that many employers are wringing their hands. My advice: you're worrying about the wrong thing! The EFCA is not your primary concern. Instead of focusing on whether the law is going to pass - which it will, in some form - you need to be paying attention to the real issue, which is: How are you treating your employees every day?

Union representation holds little attraction to employees who feel respected, valued, trusted, challenged, and recognized for their contributions. Based on these sample criteria, how would your employees rate their experience in your workplace?

The EFCA represents an opportunity for employers. For instance, they get to choose how they will interact with their employees in the future. Those who decide that it's okay if their employees feel threatened, disrespected, short-changed, without a voice, untrustworthy, and any number of negative emotions no doubt will find themselves bargaining with one or more unions in the near future. Those who prefer to communicate and work with their employees directly will ensure that workplace conditions provide no reason for those workers to believe they need third-party intervention in the form of a union.

It is true that there are elements affecting the workplace over which employers have little or no control, such as the economy, competition, and the talent pool. However, there are many more things that employers CAN control which will make a significant difference in developing a workplace culture attractive to everyone. Distinguish clearly between the things you can and cannot control, and focus your time and energy on the former. For example, it is well documented that the #1 reason why employees join unions (and leave organizations) is dissatisfaction with their immediate supervisor. This issue is totally controllable by employers. (The fact that some employers choose NOT to control their managers' behavior is another issue.) Spend your time looking for these and other opportunities to improve the workplace - and make sure that you're assessing conditions from your employees' perspectives, not your own.

For suggestions about how to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the EFCA to create a motivating work environment, please see the Business Solutions section of this newsletter.

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Answering the EFCA's Wake-up Call: Ten Ways to Create or Enhance a Motivating Work Environment

When I sat down to list a few ways to create a positive workplace that motivates employees to perform their best, I ended up with forty-nine items! Ten of them are below. Some practices can be implemented immediately, with little or no cost; others will take some time and effort.

Note: these items represent things you should be doing on an on-going basis. They are not one-time fixes meant to help you dodge the EFCA "bullet;" rather, they represent a long-term way of interacting with employees. Short-term "solutions" for long-term issues are seldom effective, and workers can tell the difference.

  1. Assess your employees' level of satisfaction with their supervisors. For example, consider issues such as whether the supervisor listens to what they say, and how he/she treats employees when they make mistakes. Take immediate action to correct any deficiencies.
  2. Ensure that every employee sees the organization's "big picture" AND his/her contribution to it. Employees who feel connected to the organization have a vested interest in its success.
  3. Learn employees' names and use them often. As a corollary, learn a little about their families and outside interests. Ask them about things that are important to them personally on a regular basis. And be genuine when you ask; people know when you are being disingenuous.
  4. Recognize employees' contributions to the organization in ways that are meaningful to the individuals involved. Research shows that the most effective forms of recognition are those that create memories for workers and their families.
  5. Ensure that employees view organizational procedures and decision-making processes as fair. For more information and specific suggestions about how to do that, please see our March, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter.
  6. Ensure that values such as trust and respect are a core part of your organization's culture. This outcome arises when each employee knows what those values "look like" in terms of his/her behaviors on the job AND when leaders exemplify those values every day.
  7. Provide employees with a meaningful voice. For additional information on the critical nature of ensuring voice in the workplace, take a look at this month's Research News You Can Use article.
  8. Incorporate appreciative approaches in the workplace. Seek out things that people do well, and build on those strengths. Ask questions that have them searching for positive answers instead of negative ones. For more information on the value of appreciative language and a list of appreciative questions you can use in the workplace, see our February, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter. For an in-depth understanding of the value of appreciative inquiry, request our Special Report on that topic.
  9. Ensure that employees are in the right jobs - i.e., that their talents are appropriate for the work they must do. Nothing is more miserable than doing a job for which you are not a good fit.
  10. Make it every manager's goal to help their employees become fully successful.

Congratulations to those of you who already engage in all or most of the above actions! Contact me for additional suggestions, or to report what's worked well for you.

 

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Ten Ways that Business Solutions Can Enhance Your Personal Quality of Life

Just as the Employee Fair Choice Act (EFCA) provides an opportunity for organizations to ensure that their workplaces motivate employees, it also may prompt us to examine how positive and motivating our non-work environment is. Below are ways to adapt the ten suggestions for creating a motivating workplace (listed in the Business Solutions section) to fit your personal life as well.

  1. Periodically, solicit constructive feedback from family and friends about the quality of your interactions with them. For example, do you demonstrate that you really care about their concerns? Listen closely. Act on those things that will enhance your relationships.
  2. Human beings have a need to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. This connection might be to our personal vision, or it might be to a cause about which we feel passionate. What are you connected to? How are you contributing to it? Remind yourself regularly of the value that you provide.
  3. How much do you really know about the interests of your family members and friends? Regularly ask them about the things that are important to them, and do so from a place of genuine curiosity, even if you think you already know what they will say.
  4. Do something nice for your family and friends on a regular basis in order to recognize the contributions they make to your well-being. It doesn't take much time or effort: saying "thank you" often and expressing your appreciation for specific actions will provide huge dividends in all your relationships. Your personal time and attention are more meaningful than you might imagine!
  5. Ensure that you treat your family and friends in ways that they perceive as fair. While we can't make everyone happy all the time, we can ensure that we explain our actions or decisions, we can use decision criteria consistently, and we can solicit input when appropriate before making a decision or taking an action. Finally, we can double check and make sure that our criteria are as objective as possible. For a specific example of how to develop a fair decision-making process in a family situation, see the Personal Solutions section of our March, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter.
  6. Ensure that your behavior consistently demonstrates the values that are a core part of your interactions with family and friends (e.g., trust, respect).
  7. Encourage your family and friends to talk honestly with you, especially when the subjects are uncomfortable or sensitive. Listen without judging or responding. Arrange to get back to them later, after you have had time to consider their feedback.
  8. Incorporate appreciative approaches in your daily life. Use language that brings out the best in yourself and others. Ask questions that require positive answers instead of negative ones. For a list of positive self-talk questions, see the Personal Solutions section of our February, 2009 Alignment Solutions newsletter.
  9. Ensure that your friends are a good "fit" for you - i.e., that they enhance the quality of your life, rather than suck the energy out of it. Why hang out with people who complain constantly, when you could be with those who search for opportunities regardless of circumstances?
  10. By making sure that your words and actions are aligned with the goal of helping your family members and friends become fully successful (as they define success), the quality of your life will be enhanced immeasurably.

 

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Date of Publication: April, 2009
Pat@BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com
www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch