What would you do if you had access to the results of a multimillion dollar study on what drives your managers? The Gallup Organization has conducted the largest study of employee engagement in history. Engagement can be defined as the employee’s emotional commitment to a company’s success, the kind of effort that goes beyond the job description. With over 10 million workplace interviews in 114 countries, and in 41 languages, this study is among many others Gallup has conducted in human nature and behavior over the past 70 years. Get ready to capitalize on their findings!
More than a decade ago, The Gallup Organization combed through its database of more than a million people to figure out what the world’s best managers did differently. What emerged was “First, Break All the Rules,” a New York Times bestseller with a million copies in print. The book, which challenged prevailing business wisdom, first identified the 12 elements that all great managers share. “The 12 Elements of Great Managing” is a new book that describes what it means to execute these 12 elements for any organization.
“Ultimately,” say authors Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, “what emerged are the 12 elements of work life that define the unwritten social contract between employee and employer. Through their answers to the dozen most important questions and their daily actions that affected performance, the workers were saying, ‘If you do these things for us, we will do what the company needs of us.’”
There is so much to understand about these elements, however, here is a brief explanation of the 12 elements and some recommendations on how you can implement them in your turf organization.
1. I know what is expected of me at work.
Yes, you need a job description, but it refers mostly to how an employee’s task fits into the team’s tasks and the outcome. The expectations of an employee change as circumstances change, each day, at each job site, an employee should know his/her role 100 percent of the time. For example, if your company loses a big client, your operating income will change, the leader needs a different game plan, and then give a clear explanation to every employee of how their roles will be different.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
This research discovered that many employees become disengaged when there is frustration, anger and resentment associated with the lack of tools or materials in the workplace. Safety also appeared to be a major concern for employees.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday.
Studies have shown that we feel happiest doing what we do best. Although cross training is important for your crew, discovering their top strengths through candid conversations will be key to a fully engaged employee. The researchers suggest that it is true that some people are just better at some things than others.
4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
The results show that employees are twice as likely to quit without this effort, but they show a 10 to 20 percent variation in productivity and revenue when companies are good at this element. The neurological effects of praise begin to lose effectiveness after seven days, according to medical studies.
5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
An employee’s commitment to the company’s success is based on his or her psychological commitment to their managers and peers. It has to do with the quality of the personal relationships, not the quality of pay.
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
This can be particularly difficult since some Latino employees feel more comfortable in the same job or position. Don’t take the first “no” as an answer. Four out of 10 employees feel no one is looking out for their development. Only 1 percent of companies achieve real engagement through the strength of the other 11 when this one is missing. Two-thirds of all employees who have a mentor are engaged.
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
This requires that you clearly explain to your managers how to execute this principle. Half the employees who feel their opinions count also feel that their job brings out their most creative ideas. Improving your scores from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 employees—who rate your company high on this item—has a substantial impact on customer experience, productivity, employee retention and safety. Which, according to the study, translates into a 6 percent average increase in profitability.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
The study shows that companies who do this very well experience 10 to 15 percent more profitability, 30 to 50 percent fewer accidents and 15 to 30 percent lower turnover than those companies who rate low on this element. Humor and laughter play a positive role in their productivity. The need to be fully convinced of the purpose of an employee’s work is emotional.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
There is an interesting discovery in the study as well. Slackers cause resentment, leading to deteriorating performance in good performers. Even with performance-based rewards, attention is diverted when there is a bad apple. But, if slackers are punished, performers see a fair system and are willing to invest again.
10. I have a best friend at work.
Customer ratings are 5 to 10 percent better when they are served by a company where comradery, friendship and fun are evident among the employees. Profitability, safety, inventory control and, most importantly, the emotional connection and loyalty of customers to the organization are some of the benefits of this interesting element. It is important that you play a role in facilitating friendships within your turf company.
11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
This means that if you wait a whole year for the review, it is too late. The study shows that it is a perception issue.
Remember to link a good job to immediate recognition and praise. Many Latino employees are more responsive to short-term rewards and recognition. When there is strong, regular discussion of progress, then nine out of 10 employees will consider the review system fair, companies also experience 10 to 15 percent higher productivity and 20 to 40 percent fewer accidents than companies who rank low in this element.
12. This last year I have had the opportunities at work to learn and grow.
This effort must be completely individualized. Companies who do this well rank 9 percent higher in customer engagement and loyalty than others, and 10 percent higher in profitability.
To help you succeed at these elements, challenge your whole organization about these issues and establish a measurement system. There are a number of assumptions about what our employees want that this study has helped eliminate. As you can probably conclude, the essence of these elements lies in aspects of closeness, frequency, personableness, relationships, disclosure, transparency, accuracy and enjoyment. Take your time to implement these 12 elements and enjoy your work.
Arturo Castro is president of Spanish Systems, Inc., a consulting company that helps Turf companies with Latino employees. A Spanish version of this article appears on C1.