Do you have jump?
Photo Credit: Jump for joy! by http://www.flickr.com/photos/good_day/38589724/
Photo Credit: Jump for joy! by http://www.flickr.com/photos/good_day/38589724/
John G. Miller on Engagement, Accountability, and Working
I like the simple yet elegant approach of John G. Miller. I was planning to write a review of his book QBQ: The Question Behind the Question – What to really ask yourself to eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination. I received his email newsletter and he wrote about engagement and leadership. I asked for his permission to reprint the newsletter and here it is. By the way, I will still write the review of the book at a later date as the ideas are very important to employee engagement.
Wanted: QBQ! Managers Who Engage People
Where is the good people management?
One of the many Miller daughters is now a barista with a large coffee house chain. What a fine organization they are. Great benefits. Decent pay. Good work environment. Fun culture. The company is successful beyond the founder’s wildest dreams, I’m sure.
But none of that matters to a teenager working her first job and experiencing her first boss.
High school senior, Molly, came to work on a Tuesday at 3:30pm, expecting to work till 6:30, and then head back to school for the annual “Back To School Night” event where parents, teachers, and students mingle. And for this young woman, academically #3 in her class, these things are important. (Her dad, a solid B- student all of his school life, doesn’t remember attending even one of these events back in the day). Upon arriving, she’s told by the 29-year-old “shift leader” that she’s actually scheduled to work till 7:30pm-an hour longer than expected. When she expresses that’s not what the overall store manager had on the schedule before, the understanding shift leader says he can handle it and she can leave at 6:30. Well, she stayed till near seven o’clock and then headed off to the school to meet Mom and Dad.
Now, I know this sounds like we’re tootin’ her horn-and no, she’s not perfect-but Molly is honest, punctual, accountable, and hard working. She’s the employee every retail manager reading this QuickNote would like to have on their team. She works hard to make all drinks excellently and is learning to deal with some pretty unpleasant customers-and she’s doing it with a smile. She’s getting a good dose of life and we’re proud of her.
So now it’s Saturday morning and she arrives at work. Moments later, the store manager confronts her-with three associates watching- by tersely asking, “So, why did you leave early on Tuesday?!” Totally caught off guard and embarrassed in front of her co-workers, she tells The Boss of the school event and explains that she hadn’t been aware of the schedule change. She also shared that the shift leader told her she could leave early. The forty-something manager now glares at the teenager and says these words: “Well, that’s not possible.”
Huh? What’s “not possible,” Boss? That you changed the schedule and forgot to notify your staff of the change? That the shift leader authorized her to leave? When you say “that’s not possible,” are you implying that this team member before you is lying? This same team member who recently come in at 5:50am-an hour early-because you urgently needed her to cover for someone who didn’t show? This same employee who also later told her parents that she had a copy of the original schedule in her purse proving the truth of her claim but admittedly didn’t dare show it to you?!
When I heard this story, my first thought was: So where are the well-trained, thoughtful, skilled-in-communication, personally accountable, and caring managers who are willing to look in the mirror? Where are the QBQ! managers?
Let me be clear: Molly has been there 90 days and has loved this job. Will this interaction break her? Heavens no. But in these days when every firm QBQ, Inc. works with talks non-stop about “employee engagement,” did this experience engage The QBQ! Daughter? Did it build trust? Does it cause her to want to please? Is she feeling good about her manager? Will she be excited about getting to her next shift a few minutes early? Did it serve to build her belief in the company?
No on all counts.
The good news is this: If our daughter is ever blessed with the title “manager,” here are the lessons she has learned young:
In the end, Miller child #4 works for a terrific firm with a stellar reputation, but that matters little to most front line folks. What does matter is the quality of everyday management-how people are treated. That’s what makes or breaks any organization.
Please pass this note on to managers everywhere, and also email us your stories of accountable managers who are doing the job of engaging their people and doing it well. We’d love to hear from you!
John G. Miller
Author of QBQ! and Flipping the Switch
With Kristin Lindeen
QBQ! speaker/workshop facilitator
Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value TM
11368 Nucla Street, Denver, CO 80022
303-286-9900, Fax: 303-286-9911
Email: info@QBQ.com © QBQ, Inc. 2008. All rights reserved. QBQ, QBQ!, and The Question Behind the Question are trademarks of QBQ, Inc.
Look for a short review of his books in the near future on this site.
I have become peeved with the looseness in how we refer to actions, initiatives, and interventions as best practices.
Here is a best practice definition:
Best Practice is an idea that asserts that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications. Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people. ~ Wikipedia definition
Were the practices actually the best or was the term best practice used to give a good idea more credibility than it may actually deserve?
Women, as well as men, in all ages and in all places, have danced on the earth, danced the life dance, danced joy, danced grief, danced despair, and danced hope. Literally danced all these and more, and danced them figuratively and metaphorically, by their vary lives. ~ Margaret Laurence
Photo Credit: dance line by http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreversouls/3996094/
Getting Better: It is a matter of life and death.
by David Zinger
What the best may have, above all, is a capcity to learn and change
— and to do so faster than everyone else.
We often seem to have an over reliance on sports as an example of performance improvement and performance enhancement. Atul Gawande wrote Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. This is an exceptional book on getting better and improving performance in life and death situations.
I think we in the field of employee engagement and HR must look for performance and engagement models from a variety of sources. This is not a business book but it is a book that could make a big difference in your business.
Atul writes exceedingly well, he is a “better” writer as he examines performance with compelling stories ranging from surgical tents to hand washing.
My favorite section of the book was on how to become a positive deviant. Here are Atul’s 5 suggetions for how you might make a worthy difference or become a positive deviant. Although the context is medicine I believe the practices would work in any field.
Ask an unscripted question. This is a question that makes a connection with another and does not have to deal with the primary purpose you are encountering this person. The unscripted question makes a human and engaged connection with another person.
Don’t complain. Resist it. There is often much to complain about but what does it do for you and to you? It’s boring, it doesn’t solve anything, and it will get you down.
Count something. Counting something makes you a scientist in this world. Find something meaningful to count. This could range from how many unscripted questions you ask a day to the number of hours you feel fully engaged in your work. It doesn’t matter what you count but the counting should be interesting to you.
Write something. You could write a blog post, an article, or even a book. This will sharpen your perception of the world and may offer a contribution to others. Writing may give you new perspective and publishing makes you a member of a community with something meaningful to say. Find an audience even if that audience is small. A small audience can be very significant.
Change. Become an early adopter. Look for the opportunity to change. What is the last thing you changed at work or how have you changed your performance?
Gawande concluded his afterword with the following paragraph:
So find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. See if you can keep the conversation going.
I encourage you to read the book and become the best kind of deviant there is: someone committed to getting better, someone committed to learning and change, someone engaged at the highest levels in their own performance and bringing out the best performance in others.