Miscommunication and Disengagement

Miscommunication and misunderstanding are causes of disengagement and frustration at work. Here’s a case in point.

I went to a bar/restaurant with 2 friends to watch the 2015 National Championship (for college football). My older son went to Clemson undergrad and Alabama law school so we knew we were going to win either way – ha-ha. When we arrived at the watering hole, they had the game on with no volume. They were playing background music and when we asked the bartender to turn on the sound, he said (with a sad face), “My manager won’t let me”. When we asked “Why?”, he said “I don’t know”.

There were two other ladies there watching the game and cheering as well. The bartender said he could turn on the closed captioning, but that just didn’t cut it. One of my friends walked to another bar and sure enough they had the volume on. We made our move. That bartender who was waiting on us, wasn’t happy. Money that could have been his – just walked out the door. We told our new football watching friends (the 2 ladies) that there was sound down the street and they came with us (along with 15 friends who were meeting them).

That first bar got what the manager wanted…a quiet night with soft music with 18 less customers than they could have had. The bartender had to be super frustrated due to the misunderstanding. Now to think about this from the manager’s perspective, maybe there was a long standing set of complaints about having football games on or games don’t mesh with the values and branding of the bar. I don’t think that message had been conveyed to the bartender and other servers who were watching money walk out the door.

Here’s your opportunity to avoid miscommunication that causes disengagement, regardless of your position in your organization.

If you are in a supervisory role (making decisions that affect others) …

1. Explain the “What”, the “Why” and the “How” of your decision
2. Listen for feedback. What do team members know that you don’t that could affect this decision?
3. Be flexible where you can – sometimes the method for reaching goals isn’t as important as you think
4. Trust your staff to make the best decisions for the organization and your customers

If you are a team member (on the receiving end of decisions that are made) …

1. Ask “Why?” if you don’t understand – curiosity is a helpful attribute
2. Share the benefits for the business that your method provides
3. Avoid the temptation to complain about a decision all night to customers or coworkers
4. Trust that your manager may have more information than you do

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Why your employee engagement survey scores aren’t what you want them to be

ScoresI spend 80 percent of my time working with healthcare organizations that are serious about positively impacting employee engagement.

The leaders in these organizations understand the benefits of engaged employees. They willingly invest in improving their workplace and levels of engagement.

After working with dozens of organizations over the last several years, I found the following 3 reasons why engagement isn’t improving:

Click here to learn what those reasons are!

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What are you cooking up at work?

The Big Idea sign with clouds

My son, Josh, and I both love to cook. We also like watching TV shows about cooking. He recently recommended a Netflix documentary called Chef’s Table about chefs who change our perceptions of food and the way we treat the planet and ourselves.

One episode in particular got me thinking about you and work. The chef who was profiled is Dan Barber – the co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns – and the author of the book, The Third Plate.

During the episode, Chef Dan shared that as a young chef a mentor told him, “If you’re not teetering on the edge of the tightrope, you’re not pushing the envelope enough.”

Of course, I immediately thought…”Am I teetering on the edge? Am I pushing the envelope enough?” But this isn’t about me, it’s about you.

“What would a person in your shoes do if he or she wanted to do the BIG thing? If he or she wanted to leave the BIG imprint on the person in front of him or her, then he or she would WHAT??

You might be thinking, “I can’t do the BIG thing, I’m just a (fill in your job). Or “How can I do something so impactful? I don’t have a BIG stage or the ability to make a difference.”

Not so fast my friend…the person you are with today – your coworker, customer, patient, boss, future customer, etc. is counting on YOU to do the BIG thing. That might be listening with empathy, finding a different solution or simply being kind. It’s not rocket science, but it has the power to change the world just like rocket science did.

As you wrap up 2015 and start to look towards 2016, chose to launch yourself, think BIG, stay on the tightrope, have fun, make a difference.

If not you, then who?

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Would you come to work if you weren’t getting paid?

My husband and I recently saw the movie “The Intern.” We settled in to watch Rober DiNiro in his role as a senior citizen intern at a tech start up. (Spoiler alert – I’m going to talk about a few things that happened in the movie – nothing that will ruin it for you – more background information.)

In the beginning of the movie, DiNiro’s character describes his life as the active life of a widower who gets up each day and gets out of the house. He is someone with lots of friends and a place to go to for coffee and to read the paper. He seems very comfortable money-wise so that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Yet something is missing in his life. You guessed it – he goes in search of his very own Professional Paradise (my description – not the movie’s producers – haha). He misses the thrill of putting on a suit and doing the work. He actually misses it so much that he’s willing to go back as an intern despite his many years of successful experience.

And interestingly enough, on the flip side of this coin, all across the country many folks go to work every day and count down the days until retirement (literally – on calendars with big X’s). Are you one of those people? They long to trade in the constraints of work for the freedom of no schedules, lots of free time and no one telling them what to do.

Is this a simple case of one man’s need to find meaningful work or is there something more substantial to our connection to our jobs?

You can watch the movie, think about your own experiences with work and decide for yourself. This movie reminded me that it’s a privilege to go to work and serve others. It’s a privilege to create new ideas, solve problems and feel emotionally connected to your job. What a great reminder that when you purposefully connect to what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive the benefits of work far out weigh the challenges.

Sure golf, lunch with the guys and leisurely reading the paper sounds like Paradise – but maybe we can find that same sense of Paradise at work right now. Click here to read the full article that was created by The Wall Street Journal, which in addition to the movie inspired this month’s topic of discussion.

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What Are Extraordinary Leaders Doing in Healthcare?

Be UncommonIt all started on a phone call with nursing leader, Anita Walden. Anita is the Chief Nursing Officer at Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, AL. We were talking about best practices related to employee engagement and she shared a story with me about the president of the hospital, Nat Richardson. I was amazed!

Click here to continue reading the article in Becker’s Hospital Review…

Article appears in Becker’s Hospital Review (original producer).

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Let’s Do It Because We Care

There are many reasons to focus on employee engagement at work.  Recent research has shown that engaged employees are more productive, creative & safe. They offer better customer service. Financially the results are astounding. According to an article in Fast Company magazine, “Organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147%  in earnings per share, and have 90% better growth trend than their competition.”

The trouble is, most employees don’t give a hoot about employee engagement

(Perfect for tweeting @vickihess)

employee engagement

No one that I know, wakes up in the morning and says “I can’t wait to go to work to be engaged today.” In fact, according to a 2014 Accountemps survey, one of the most annoying business buzzwords is employee engagement. Yikes! Why do we keep talking about it if it’s so irritating?

Hopefully, because you care!

Whether you are thinking about engagement for yourself or you’re a manager and thinking about your team…being engaged (aka “to occupy oneself; become involved” – Dictionary.com) is good for YOU!

As a refresher, my definition of engagement is when you’re “satisfied, energized & productive.” When I ask participants at my workshops or keynotes about the benefits to individuals who feel this way, here are some of the most common responses:

  • More energy
  • More fun
  • Time flies
  • Less stress
  • Better teamwork
  • Sleep better

Don’t you want to experience all those things? I know I do!

Today, pay attention to the times when you feel satisfied, energized & productive. Notice how YOU benefit in many of the ways listed above (hopefully you aren’t experiencing the sleeping benefit at work – haha).

If you are in a formal leadership role, start asking about the personal benefits of engagement because you care.

If you are looking for ways to find those benefits yourself, find a way to connect directly to what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive and pay attention while it’s happening. That’s the ticket to all those lovely outcomes.

I’d love to hear the benefits you experience when you are engaged at work. Feel free to post your comments below.


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