1. Key employee engagement strategies for 2018

    February 27, 2018 by ahmed

    Engagement1

    Originally posted on Floship

    For any business to be successful, it must have three things: a robust overall strategy, exceptional leaders, and engaged employees. This society has moved from an economy driven by the agricultural and manufacturing industries to a service oriented, personally connected economy.

    One hundred years ago, employees were tasked with manual labor and had no vested interest in the business that employed them.

    In 2018, with high paying jobs hard to come by, it is essential for employers and leaders to engage their employees and make them feel as if they are an integral part of the business.

    How can they do that? In this article, we’re going to lay out the what, why, and how of employee engagement.

    Engagement2

    Employee Engagement Most Recent Data

    In 2017, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report revealed that only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs – meaning that they are emotionally invested in committing their time, talent, and energy to adding value to their team and advancing the organization’s initiatives.

    This means that the majority of employees show low overall engagement. Workplace productivity was low and employees and organizations are not keeping up with workplace demands fast enough.

    More Gallup research shows that employee disengagement costs the United States upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity. As employee engagement strategies become more commonplace, there is an amazing opportunity for companies that learn to master the art of engagement.

    Jacob Shriar, in a piece on OfficeVibe, tells us that

      • Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually.
      • Highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
      • Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
      • Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
      • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.
      • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.

    These statistics are just the beginning of why employee engagement is so important.

    Why Is Employee Engagement So Important?

    Engagement3

    The term “engagement” has been used so often and in so many different situations that it’s become hard to define. Many people think it means happiness or satisfaction, but it’s much more than that.

    According to Gallup, who has been collecting and measuring employee engagement data for nearly 20 years: “Though there have been some slight ebbs and flows, less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged in their jobs and workplaces.”

    Imagine if every employee was passionate about seeing the company and its customers succeed. The only true way to ensure that your customers are well taken care of is by taking care of your employees. This is known as the service-profit chain, a concept first introduced by Harvard Business Review in 1998. It’s still as relevant today as it was then.

    Profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty. Loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is largely influenced by the value of services provided to customers. Value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, in turn, results primarily from high-quality support services and policies that enable employees to deliver results to customers.

    The service-profit chain is the flow from the culture you create to the profits you generate and every step in between. The key is to start internally. When you create an environment where employees are happy, productive, autonomous, and passionate about what they do, they’ll provide better service to your customers.

    That amazing service will create many loyal customers, leading to sustainable growth and profits. That’s why it’s important for every leader in an organization to understand the service-profit chain and how each step impacts the other.

    Key Employee Engagement Strategies

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    Organizations need to pay attention to specific priorities to engage employees. Employees are more likely to become truly engaged and involved in their work if your workplace provides these factors.

    Employee engagement must be a business strategy that focuses on finding engaged employees, then keeping the employee engaged throughout the whole employment relationship. Employee engagement must focus on business results. Employees are most engaged when they are accountable, and can see and measure the outcomes of their performance.

    Employee engagement occurs when the goals of the business are aligned with the employee’s goals and how the employee spends his or her time.

    The glue that holds the strategic objectives of the employee and the business together is frequent, effective communication that reaches and informs the employee at the level and practice of his or her job.

    Engaged employees have the information that they need to understand exactly and precisely how what they do at work every day affects the company’s business goals and priorities. (These goals and measurements relate to the Human Resources department, but every department should have a set of metrics.)

    Employee engagement exists when organizations are committed to management and leadership development in performance development plans that are performance-driven and provide clear succession plans.

    When businesses actively pursue employee engagement through these factors, employee engagement soars to a ratio of 9:1 employees from 2:1 employees with concurrent improvements in the business success.

    Employee Engagement Examples

    There are of course many ways to show your employees they are valued, and to keep them focused and engaged on company success. According to Forbes, there are certain items in the benefit package that will help in creating employee engagement:

        • Health Insurance
        • Company Parties (social engagement)
        • Gifts (new babies, appreciation luncheons)

    Employees go home to different roles–parent, caregiver to a loved one, a church or civic leader, spouse, bandmate, freelancer, artist, neighbor–and the people they are closest to impact their lives and perspectives about work in meaningful ways. Acknowledging those relationships and showing they are a priority will increase employee engagement.

    How to Improve Employee Engagement

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    In a recent article in Forbes, Brent Gleeson, a former navy seal and successful businessman, gives solid advice on ways to improve employee engagement.

    When managers are engaged, their team members can confidently state the following:

        • I know what is expected of me and my work quality.
        • I have the resources and training to thrive in my role.
        • I have the opportunity to do what I do best – every day.
        • I frequently receive recognition, praise and constructive criticism.
        • I trust my manager and believe they have my best interests in mind.
        • My voice is heard and valued.
        • I clearly understand the mission and purpose and how I contribute to each.
        • I have opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

    The steps for improving engagement aren’t complex, they simply must be prioritized. This means engagement must be a core function of the manager’s role. The following steps can help the manager to accomplish this.

    Step 1 – Put Everyone in the Right Role
    Again, get the right people on the bus and make sure they are in the right roles. This means that all talent acquisition and retention strategies have to be aligned with meeting company goals.

    Step 2 – Give them the Training
    No manager or leader can expect to build a culture of trust and accountability — and much less improve engagement —without setting the team up for success. This means providing the proper training and development while removing obstacles.

    Step 3 – Task Meaningful Work
    Engaged employees are doing meaningful work and have a clear understanding of how they contribute to the company’s mission, purpose and strategic objectives. Again, this is why they first have to be placed in the right role. I’ve made the mistake of hiring great talent just to get them in the door – but didn’t have a clear career path or role for them. If you don’t sort those details out quickly, they will leave.

    Step 4 – Check in Often
    The days of simply relying on mid-year reviews for providing feedback are long gone. Today’s workforce craves regular feedback — which of course leads to faster course correction and reduces waste. Use both formal and informal check-in strategies — and use them every week.

    Step 5 – Frequently Discuss Engagement
    Successful managers are transparent in their approach to improving engagement — they talk about it with their teams all the time. They hold “state of engagement” meetings and “engage” everyone in the discussion — and solutions.

    Again, these principles are not complex, but must be prioritized. Companies that get this right will drive greater financial returns, surpass their competitors, and easily climb to the top of “the best places to work” lists.

    Are Your Employees Engaged?
    Employee engagement is critical to the success of any business. When a business has engaged and invested employees, it is in their best interest to protect the productivity and profitability of the business, and the image the business has in the community. Engagement also results in employee retention, which saves the business money in turnover and training. There is no downside to getting your employees engaged and invested in your business.


  2. Dubai We Learn book launch – 13 benchmarking success stories

    December 26, 2017 by ahmed

    DWL Book

    On Sunday 17 December 2017, the Dubai Government Excellence Programme (DGEP) and the Centre for Organisational Research (COER) celebrated the publication of their book titled “Achieving performance excellence through benchmarking and organisational learning”. The book describes Dubai We Learn’s Excellence Makers Program and showcases 13 successful benchmarking projects undertaken by Dubai government entities from 2015 to 2016. The benchmarking projects focussed on a broad range of issues including innovation, employee happiness, smart government, purchasing, knowledge management and building employee competencies and skills.
    The book summarises how the projects were undertaken, results achieved, lessons learnt and key success factors. Dr Robin Mann, Founder of COER, explained at the launch that, “The purpose of the book is to show how benchmarking can be used to instigate change and produce major breakthroughs in performance. It aims to encourage more Dubai government entities to start their own benchmarking projects and conduct them in a structured way utilising the TRADE best practice benchmarking methodology. In addition, the book shares some fantastic best practices that can immediately be learnt from“.

    DWL1Book

    All projects used the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking methodology to manage their projects and identify and implement best practices. On average projects identified between 30 to 99 potential actions to implement with savings and benefits for the Dubai government and citizens in the millions of dollars. Four of the projects achieved 7 star status for their role model application of the TRADE methodology.

    TRADE stages

    Dr. Ahmed Nuseirat, General Coordinator of DGEP, closed the book launch by saying, “The benchmarking projects are helping Dubai government entities to become world-leaders in public service. Due to the success of the Dubai We Learn initiative we are already looking forward to a 2nd volume of the book in 2018“.

    The book can be downloaded from here.

    Presentation video clips from each benchmarking project are available in the www.bpir.com’s Award winner reports section. Join BPIR to access the reports and many other features.

    Sign-up up to COER’s newsletter to receive future updates on COER’s work.


  3. Automobiles, Blind Spots, and Organizational Strategy

    December 8, 2017 by ahmed

    rear-view-mirror

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    Fall 2017
    How does an organization identify its potential blind spots? This is one of the most common questions I hear from people conducting strategic planning processes.

    To begin answering the question, I have a simple analogy that can be used as a springboard to organizational strategy. That is, today’s cars are equipped with three rearview mirrors and often a backup camera. The mirrors and camera let you visualize what is behind you, a place you have already been. They identify “competitors” from within your clear line of sight, but they do not tell you much about them. They are your “in-industry” competitors. Some cars have an embedded blind spot mirror in the outside mirrors. The blind spot mirrors allow a view of those close to you, potentially ready to overtake you. This is an important piece of trend data that puts you on the alert and identifies competitors from within your industry who might be ready to speed ahead and overtake your leadership position. However, what you really want to know is what lies ahead!You can look out your front windshield and see the road immediately ahead or use GPS to see the road a few miles or even hours ahead (the short-term horizon). This is all helpful information, but you really want to be able to look a year or two ahead and know what road you should be on and what the traffic (competition) will look like. Will you be on the same old roads or a new road (new products and services)? As a driver today, you want to know if you will be driving a car or using another mode of transportation entirely (deriving from new industry competitors or new travel modes within your industry). Will your competition be driverless cars or a hyperloop? Can you predict those new competitors today and plan accordingly? Can you even identify those non-industry competitors? These are the real blind spots you want to know as part of strategic planning, not the extrapolated data from a “rearview mirror.”At each stage of this blind spot analogy, you were broadening your view, eventually redefining your industry from personally driven automobiles to people moving. This could lead your organization to a major shift in “product line” and services, if you want to sustain the organization and its competitive position.

    The 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework describes blind spots as arising from incorrect, incomplete, obsolete, or biased assumptions or conclusions that cause gaps, vulnerabilities, risks, or weaknesses in your understanding of the competitive environment and strategic challenges your organization faces. Blind spots may arise from new or replacement offerings or business models coming from inside or outside your industry (as you currently define it). To conclude the analogy, competition could come from driverless cars or driverless car services that take you from chosen point to point (a new business model) or from outside your industry (significant changes in mass transport or hyperloops, for example).

    Where do we find the wisdom to recognize that our industry is people moving, not automobile manufacturing? How do we find what Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, called the “unknown unknowns”? Kodak invented the digital camera but believed it was in the film industry/printing business, not the business to create memories that could best be shared online, digitally. It even realized that a “Kodak moment” was worth sharing but did not see far enough ahead to predict the business model for future sharing.

    In the remainder of this column, I will explore common traps that lead to blind spots, then explore some don’t do’s, and finally, how to look for blind spots.

    Blind Spot Traps
    I have identified seven common traps that lead to blind spots. Many of the traps arise from the work of Professor Bettina Büchel at IMD.

    1. Seeing what we expect to see: This is the theory of incongruence. We don’t see what is incongruent with our current beliefs and frame of reference. I remember seeing a video in which we were asked to count the number of times a basketball was passed; none of us noticed that a gorilla was walking among the players because we were so focused on basketball. We pay selective attention to our area of focus.
    2. Misjudging industry boundaries: We narrowly define our industry based on our current products or services and how they are used today.
    3. Failing to identify emerging competition: We don’t see emerging competition because they do not do things exactly as we do. They are tackling a different problem from our “blinders-on” perspective.
    4. Falling out of touch with customers: We think we know what our customers need and want. We have been serving them for many years and believe in their loyalty. We do not seek their input on changing needs or unmet desires.
    5. Overemphasizing competitors’ visible competence: We focus on our competitors’ current offerings and assume they will continue unchanged. We do not think about the research and development they may be doing on a disruptive product, service, or business model.
    6. Allowing organizational taboos or prohibitions to limit our thoughts: Our practices or policies can limit our thinking. We fail to question practices and policies that may be outdated or incongruent with current technology or regulation.
    7. Relying on history: This is the way we have always done things. We let our historical patterns guide our future.

    In essence, we fall into rigidity traps, rather than questioning the status quo.

    Blind Spot “Don’t Do’s”
    Before discussing what you should do to identify blind spots, let’s look at some “don’t do’s” that organizations engage in.

    1. Don’t be a slave to strategy: In a world where technology, business models, economics, and global political environments are in a constant state of evolution, organizations need to be agile. Slavishly adhering to a strategy created several years ago can take an organization down a path toward obsolescence. An organization can devote years to an outdated strategy, achieve it, and fail as an organization. And if the organization does not fail, achieving an outdated strategy could lead to the conclusion that developing strategy is useless. Today, strategic plans need to be regularly reviewed and modified as conditions and opportunities warrant. The approach should be toward strategic thinking, not strategic planning as a periodic event.
    2. Don’t focus on fear: While a healthy respect for all sources of competition is important, fear should be turned into opportunity. Fear can stifle breakthrough thinking. Confront organizational challenges and seek to capitalize on them through disruptive ideas and new solutions, not extensions of old ideas. Explore new capabilities needed to pursue opportunities. As suggested by Clark in an HBR blog, war-game your potential failures. Perform a pre-mortem. Assume the idea will fail and look for options to avoid the failure.
    3. Don’t trust: Don’t rely on sources that we tend to give undue weight. Don’t trust the wisdom of the crowd. Group-think can lead to consensing on a safe path, rather than expressing bold ideas. Brainstorm with all opinions valued. Don’t trust instincts, seek data and careful analysis of implications. Perceptions can be clouded by personal biases. Don’t trust minimizers. It is easy to deny problems and assume things will get better. It is also easy to assume things are better than they appear. Don’t trust individual experts. Experts can get it wrong and different experts have different opinions and ideas. Seek the thoughts of multiple experts.

    Blind Spot Identification
    Finally, let’s explore the processes you should use to seek and identify potential blind spots.

    1. Explore upcoming technologies: Are any emerging technologies capable of being exploited for your next generation products or services? Are there emerging technologies that could create new industries that challenge yours? Are there new technologies that could generate add-ons to your existing offerings? If yes, would it be an intelligent risk for you to invest early and capitalize on your brand recognition to be a first entrant.
    2. Assess global trends: Investigate global changes in demographics, political environments, regulation, production and purchasing capabilities, and markets. Are there any major shifts likely that could impact your marketplace positively or negatively?
    3. Get out of your comfort zone: Break tradition. Shake up the norm. Try to identify and test your implicit assumptions. Take your leadership team to totally different surroundings. Get you news from a different source that has a different focus than your normal channel. Talk to people that you wouldn’t normally interact with. For example, if you are a physicist, talk to an economist or social scientist or industrial engineer. Ask probing questions. Try to talk to someone new on a regular basis.
    4. Seek employee input broadly: Discuss potential game-changing ideas with employees at all levels of the organization. Solicit and listen to their reactions. Solicit other ideas from them. Bring people together from different parts of the organization and different job functions to brainstorm together and to share what they are hearing or reading outside the confines of their workplace.
    5. Talk to your customers: Ask your customers about their unmet needs and desires. Talk to your customers’ customers to gain additional insight. Observe your customers in action to understand their behaviors and frustrations. Look for creative solutions.
    6. Broaden your field of view: Don’t assume companies or organizations will remain in current industry boundaries. Look at adjacent industries and benchmark what they are doing. Ask yourself what business are you really in (e.g. automobile manufacturing or people moving)? What is the ultimate goal or impact of your product or service for the user? Given global and technology trends is there a new business model you should pursue?

    Final Thoughts
    To find blind spots you need to look broadly and not be constrained by current biases and boundaries. You need to trust instincts less because they harbor your current biases. You need to seek new and different sources of information and synthesize what you learn. Verify your conclusions. Plan a specific course of action. Continue monitoring trends and your progress. Stay agile. Look not just straight ahead, but around corners.


  4. Boosting knowledge sharing between government entities

    October 2, 2017 by ahmed
    DWL092017a

    The 11 “Dubai We Learn” project teams

    The 2nd Progress sharing day (Learning summit) of Dubai We Learn was held on 18 September 2017. In the opening speech, HE Dr. Ahmed Nuseirat, General Coordinator of DGEP, encouraged the teams to achieve world-class performance in their projects, and praised the progress made by teams so far.

    Opening speech by HE Dr. Ahmed Nuseirat, General Coordinator of DGEP

    Opening speech by HE Dr. Ahmed Nuseirat, General Coordinator of DGEP

    One of the aims of the Dubai We Learn initiative is to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration between government entities. To achieve this, each of the 11 projects teams gave a 10 minute presentation to share their project progress. Discussions then followed between the teams on how they could assist each other.

    Since it has been five months since the launch of the projects, most of the teams have finished the Research stage of the TRADE benchmarking methodology – this is the methodology they are using to find and implement best practices. The main task of the Research stage is to gain a better understanding of the area of focus to be benchmarked through undertaking a detailed analysis of current processes and performance. As a result, some of the projects went from a specific to a broader aim, while some others went from a broader to more specific aim. The next step is the Acquire stage, where teams are looking for best practices from other organisations, this is mainly done through desktop research and benchmarking visits. Some teams took the opportunity of the relationships developed with other teams and have already conducted some benchmarking visits.

    The following shows the latest aim of each project:

    Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA):
    To identify and implement best practices in increasing the awareness Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services provided by the DCAA.

    Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS):
    To develop and implement a world-class performance management system for ambulance services.

    Dubai Customs:
    To identify with pilot entities from the Dubai Government best practices in the Client Accreditation process, set standards and benefits for the program with a view to start implementing the Dubai Accredited Clients Program across the pilot entities from February 2018.

    Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA):
    To identify and implement best practices in idea generation to improve employee engagement rate with the AKFARI Idea Management System from 20% in 2017 to a minimum of 40% by April 2018. Improving the Quality of the Ideas & Implementation Rate by 50%.

    Dubai Government Human Resource (DGHR):
    Launching Dubai Government HR Think Tank for future shaping, research-driven decision making and pioneering HR’s role for Dubai government.

    Dubai Health Authority (DHA):
    Within one year to develop and start implementing Dubai Diabetes prevention framework based on worldwide best practices to reduce the prevalence of Diabetes from 19.3% to 16.3% in 2021.

    Dubai Municipality:
    Identify and implement best practices in managing, sharing, and utilising knowledge across the organisation through an effective Innovation Hub that can create a robust base for innovation and increase the utilisation rate of knowledge sources.

    Dubai Police:
    To find and implement best practices in vehicle fleet maintenance in order to improve the productivity of Dubai Police Mechanical Works department to world-class levels.

    General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai (GDRFA):
    To identify and implement best practices in enriching a “Positive Energy Culture” at GDFRA.

    Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA):
    To identify and implement best practices in transforming the way we work into a self-managed system that engages, empowers, and enlightens employees leading to elevated levels of employee happiness, innovation and productivity. Inspired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, “we are building a new reality for our people, a new future for our children, and a new model of development.

    Public Prosecution:
    To increase the number of the applications submitted electronically to more than 70% and to improve the electronic services provided to the applicant by March 2018

    If you have information that can assist any of these projects we would be pleased to hear from you.

    For more information about this initiative, download the attached article and sign-up up to COER’s newsletter to receive the latest updates.


  5. Lots of Activity, No Progress

    June 18, 2017 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    I recently read an HBR blog entitled, “How Aligned Is Your Organization?” The authors attributed a lack of internal organizational alignment to four reasons. The last, and I thought very important one, was that activity is mistaken for progress. Measurement of activity rather than progress is a common problem in organizations. Frequently, it starts with a desire to measure and manage by fact, and the easiest measures to begin with are activity measures. Activity measurement is not wrong, if you are measuring the right activities. In this blog post, I want to explore activity measurement and the achievement of progress.Activity is undertaken with the intent of producing results. And the direct results of activity are generally easy to measure (e.g., widgets produced, calls answered, time spent). Activity alone generally relates to operations and the results generally answer a question that begins with “What did you do?” You may have made twice as many widgets in half the time. You may have answered twice as many calls in only 120% of the time it previously took to answer half that number of calls. However, what you did may not yield results that relate to progress. Activity alone does not get at progress.

    In the Baldrige Excellence Framework, Results are scored on four factors. The first three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. You can measure all three of these factors for the activities described above and be very proud of your accomplishments. So what is missing?

    What if all the widgets were defective? What if all the calls answered did not resolve the callers’ issues? “Positive” activity, but no progress. The activities were measures of output, but not outcomes. The outcomes, which are measures of progress, were negative. Furthermore, the widgets may not have had the features that customers want. And with the heavy focus on widget production, the company may have missed that a replacement product was coming from another industry (e.g. digital imaging and ink replacing film and processing chemicals).

    All the customer calls you answered may have been due to poor guidance your organization provided at the start, requiring the need for further information.

    The activity measures perfectly answered the “What did you do?” question, but did not address the important questions of how well you did it, why you did it, and how important those activities are. To answer those questions we need more information about organizational context, strategy, leadership vision, and customer desires or needs. We need a systems perspective. We need an integrated set of questions and not just questions about level of activity, no matter how positive that activity’s results may be. The activity you are measuring may not even be an important activity to measure. The Baldrige Excellence Framework provides this systems perspective, through an integrated set of questions that cause thought about key organizational linkages.

    So how do quality improvement tools fit into this whole equation? They fit in very well, if applied to the right processes. Otherwise we could spend time on PDCA cycles or having Kaizen blitzes on unimportant processes, wasting people’s time and organizational resources, both of which are precious. These tools display their great value when applied to important problems. They need to be used with the good of the organization in mind, with a focus on processes that contribute to progress. We can then link the activity measures to not only output, but to the outcomes that will sustain the organization going forward.

    Finally, let me return to Baldrige Results factors. As stated previously, three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. The fourth and vital factor is integration. Are you measuring the results that are important to customers, strategy, financial success, and employee loyalty? And to emphasize the importance of integration, it is the only results factor that is also used as a scoring factor for processes. It is the measure of an aligned and integrated organization. It is the measure of systems thinking on the part of the organization. It is what moves our organizations from activity measurement, to measuring the right activities, to measuring critical outcomes, to achieving progress.

    How is your organization performing on its integration factors?