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IDEAS FOR LEADERS: GAINING WORKFORCE COMMITMENT

by Jerry Tarasofsky September 13, 2011

An original post from Max Garfinkle

The future belongs to those managers who can change from boss to leader; to those work units that can perform as a team; and to those organizations that can create a learning culture. Such companies have an invisible asset- a committed workforce.

In his  Boss to Leader (Nov 16, 2010) post three characteristics were identified for transforming a Boss to a Leader: Inspiring, Empowering and Team building.

Inspiring

Managers/leaders want to get their people to try hard, to exert themselves. They should be telling their staff what to do in a way that motivates the staff to get the task accomplished in a superior fashion. Inspiring an employee means just that-setting the direction for that employee in a manner that generates performance beyond expectations.

A manager/leader inspires when he or she assigns tasks that are meaningful and challenging. A meaningful task has outcomes that have a visible and substantial impact on others. The employee relates his/her work to the broader purposes of satisfying customers and coworkers. Working to extract the last bit of utility from obsolete equipment can be made as meaningful as the romance of working on the leading-edge technology.

A challenging task stretches the abilities of those performing it. The task should be achievable, but not automatically so. The employee has to contribute his/her own talents and understandings to bring about the desired outcome. There should be room for personal inventiveness in how the results are to be obtained.

Empowering

A manager empowers when s/he actively encourages self-management. This takes place in direct communications to the employee. The communications stress ownership of the project.

“You are responsible for deciding how the work should be carried out. Don’t just sit around waiting for instructions. Don’t just keep on doing what you were told to do regardless of the mess being created. You are expected to continuously monitor the situation and take action based on or your assessment. ”

Moreover, the manager as leader makes certain that the organization provides adequate resources and systems for supporting this notion of personal responsibility for outcomes of the work.

1.       The information system should provide each employee with reliable and timely feedback about the specific work being done and how this relates to the broader objectives.

2.       The education system in the organization should provide each employee with the knowledge and skills required to take advantage of being empowered. Employees have to learn how to analyze data, test hypotheses, and evaluate decisions. Coaching, training and consulting are all resources to be made accessible to the employees.

3.       A reward system should recognize and reward superior and outstanding performance. The employees must see a relationship between their daily work behavior and the compensation provided. We need a multiple-level reward system that incorporates immediate recognition with long term financial benefits.

Team building

The output of a manager is the sum total of the output achieved by the people under his/her direct control, plus the output of those under his/her sphere of influence. Managers don’t have time to do everything themselves. High output managers have to choose to spend their time in activities that have high leverage. The lever amplifies the manager’s efforts.

Building a productive team can be one of the most high-leverage activities a manager can engage in. Yet it is a sadly neglected opportunity in most companies. This is so because effective workgroups cannot be created just by bringing a group together and giving them a pep talk. Task groups slowly develop over time from a collection of individuals to a cohesive team when property nurtured

Team-building involves setting clear goals for the group; clear roles for each member, in terms of responsibility, authority, and accountability; and clear norms for how the group is to make decisions and manage conflict. A cohesive group can identify its key problems, can formulate and implement a plan for correcting them, and can evaluate the effectiveness of its actions.

CONSTRUCTING A LEARNING ORGANIZATION

The reciprocal commitment of the organization to its employees lies in the construction of a learning organization. At present, a learning organization is an emerging concept with no clear prototype to follow. This lack of clarity provides an opportunity for each organization to construct a learning organization that best suits its own unique situation.

Creating commitment to a learning organization requires leadership vision. We are living through an historic period where technology, strategy, and psychology all point in this same direction. Those leaders with the courage to risk change will reap the benefits of being in the vanguard of the new order.

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Turn to the Organization Optimizer – the innovative organization diagnostic, to identify all the elements in your organization that aids in gaining workplace commitment.

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