Three Steps to Set Clear Expectations and Drive Employee Engagement
By: Liz Scavnicky-Yaekle
A recent Gallup Business Journal article reveals that many employees are not currently engaged in their jobs because they don’t know what is expected of them. Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their role and working environment. Today, only one third of all U.S. employees are engaged which is slightly greater than the same time last year when it was 30%.
While there is abundant research reinforcing that managers have a key role to play in employee engagement, few companies are focused on increasing it and are therefore leaving money on the table. In fact, U.S. businesses lose $11 billion annually as a result of employee turnover according to the Bureau of National Affairs. Moreover, Gallup’s latest meta-analysis shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21% more profitable, are 17% more productive, have 10% better customer ratings, experience 41% less absenteeism and suffer 70% fewer safety incidents compared with business units in the bottom quartile.
Since only about half of all workers strongly indicate that they knowwhat is expected of themat work, setting and modifying clear expectations is a viable way to drive employee engagement in the short term. Here are three tactics to set expectations and increase employee engagement.
Collaborate.Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ underscores that it is critical for companies to gather workers’ input and collaborate with them regarding role expectations. This approach makes employees feel valued and increases the likelihood of their succeeding. Having the opportunity to offer opinions makes them feel respected, and discussing the role’s expectations sets them up for success because they clearly understand what is expected of them.
Aim high. ‘Throw down a challenge,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 21st principle because competition motivates human beings. Think about what inspires you to go above and beyond both in your personal and professional life. For example, if you want to lose weight, you most likely set a goal toward which you are working.
Employees aren’t inspired by minimum job standards; rather they are inspired when they are motivated to attain a goal. Managers who lead by example in terms of performance and productivity, and those who reveal what top performers do differently, set a high standard. When they set high standards and clear expectations, employees understand what they need to do differently to model leaders’ and top performers’ best-in-class behaviors.
Navigate strengths.I don’t know anyone who wants to spend time on tasks in which they lack interest or expertise. Managers who invest time in learning what comes naturally to team members, their innate strengths, can capitalize on them. By positioning employees’ unique talents against the tasks at hand, managers increase employee engagement and equally important, employee performance.
To learn more about employee engagement and why it is so very important, download our free employee engagement white paper.
Most people are familiar with ‘IQ,’ an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. Albert Einstein’s IQ was estimated at 160 and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119. Traditional hiring and promoting methods often required a high IQ for climbing to the top ranks of American businesses, however today many companies are turning to more effective metrics.
Truth be told—your IQ is insignificant where compared to your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence), and BQ (Body Intelligence). In fact, 85% of a person’s success is due to their human engineering skills according to Carnegie Institute of Technology research. The team of researchers defined it as a person’s ability to communicate, negotiate and lead, coupled with his or her personality.
Here are the right ‘Qs’ to pay attention to:
Emotional Intelligence was first coined by scientists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer as, “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”
Learning and applying Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations principles is an ideal, systematic way to increase your EQ. For example, principle ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view,’ enables you to determine when it is appropriate to say vs. save something. Being open and honest with people reinforces their trust so that they in turn feel comfortable sharing with you. There are, however, statements better served when saved—anything that may hurt another person or make her feel awkward. The higher your EQ level, the more likely you are to be aware of your inner dialogue so you can respond appropriately to others and ultimately foster healthy, productive relationships.
Moral Intelligence dovetails emotional intelligence as it relates to a person’s integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness. Essentially, it is the Golden Rule—‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Dale Carnegie’s 19th principle, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ underscores the importance of having an ideal moral code. Acting with integrity in all you do; being accountable when you make mistakes; demonstrating respect, acceptance, tolerance and understanding of others, are a few examples. When faced with a tough decision, ask yourself if you are acting with integrity or may lose the respect of others. This is a surefire way to increase your MQ.
Body Intelligence reflects how you feel about and manage your body. Listening to your inner dialogue; getting sufficient sleep and exercise; and maintaining a healthy diet fuel your BQ level. Some people ignore their bodies because they assume these matters are unrelated to job performance, however your BQ directly impacts your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence and state of mind. Therefore strong body intelligence is required to reach your peak performance in terms of productivity, relationships with others, etc.
Bottom line—improving your EQ, MQ and BQ levels will help propel your personal and professional success!
If one of your goals for this year was to land a new job and you haven’t yet, the clock is ticking. The consensus among top recruiters is that hiring peaks when most people are in the office. With summer vacations behind and the hustle and bustle of holidays ahead, late September and the month of October are strong hiring periods.
Once you land the interview, here are four tips to follow in order to increase your odds of securing an offer.
Don’t throw anyone under the bus.Perhaps you and your current boss bump heads or there is someone on your team who you rubs you the wrong way. A job interview is the last place to share these negative sentiments. When you are asked why you want to leave your current employer—or have already left, focus on why you want to grow and where you want to go. Dale Carnegie’s first Human Relations principle, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain,’ reinforces that while it’s easy to complain about a situation, it takes a strong self-starter to explore and implement solutions. Demonstrate your ‘can-do’ attitude by focusing on how your work experience makes you an ideal fit for the job opportunity.
Listen up!Dale Carnegie’s 7th principle is, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.’ A job interview is like a date—you and your potential employer learn about each other. Avoid launching into a soliloquy about your stellar education and roster of amazing roles. Instead, first, actively listen to the interviewer’s questions. Next, share aspects about your professional experience that correlate to the specific question. Responding in this fashion demonstrates that you are a good listener and have respect for others.
Smile.Body language speaks volumes. In fact, a person’s voice inflection, facial expressions and body language can make up over 90% of their message. Use Dale Carnegie’s 5th principle, ‘Smile,’ to your advantage during the interview. Not smiling can be interpreted in many detrimental ways. For example, a recruiter may assume you are not interested in or enthusiastic about the job opportunity. Worse yet, the perception may be that you are complacent, over-confident, self-absorbed or other negative characteristics. Smiling when appropriate sends the message that you are excited and engaged—which hiring managers value.
Show some love.Dale Carnegie’s 2nd principle, ‘Give honest, sincere appreciation,’ reminds us to give thanks in every situation. A popular interview question, “What do you like most and least about your current role, and why?” is ideal to show your sincere appreciation. For example, you may share that you appreciate the autonomy your current boss has given you because it enabled you to uncover more efficient and effective approaches to outdated processes. Remember, each question the interviewer poses is an opportunity for you to shine, smile and show your gratitude for all of the work experiences that have paved away for this next potential role.
Although technology has enabled employees’ efficiency to excel in many ways, being constantly plugged-in can equate to never officially clocking out.
Here are three reasons and ways to stop overworking.
Overworking makes mistakes more likely. If you tend to work through lunch, stay late most evenings and/or work from home during ‘off’ hours, the tendency to make mistakes soars. The results of being overworked are exhaustion and stress. When a person is tired and stressed, the brain has to work much harder to process and respond to information. This means that being overworked can make interpersonal communication, judgement calls and regulating one’s own emotional reactions far more difficult according to Harvard Business Review1. Moreover, working without breaks causes most people to lose focus according to a 2011 study by the University of Illinois.
To minimize mistakes, maximize breaks. Carve out and commit to taking mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. Dale Carnegie’s 5th principle for Breaking the Worry Habit Before It Breaks You is, ‘Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.’ Should you feel anxiety about stopping for a break, remind yourself that if you skip it, you will most likely make more mistakes. By keeping your commitment, you will return to your task with a recharged and refreshed focus.
Working too much inhibits good habits. Overworking also takes its toll outside of the workplace.Anxiety and stress levels inevitably spill into other areas of employees’ lives. Stressed people usually struggle to sleep (sleep debt) which causes them to make poor choices out of sheer exhaustion, such as consuming a ton of caffeine with hopes of propelling productivity levels.
Exhausted employees tend to make unhealthy food choices as well, like fast food on a regular basis which also drains energy over time. Dale Carnegie’s first Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry principle is, ‘Get all the facts.’ Now that you know overworking will ultimately make you more tired, stressed and likely to opt for poor beverage and meal options, honor yourself by unplugging for a good night’s rest—every night, and eating well daily.
Prevent an intervention.It’s admirable to work late or over a weekend when there is an urgent and important issue, however when this behavior becomes the norm versus the exception, it can become an addiction. In fact, 27% of workers claim to be workaholics, and an estimated 10% might be clinically considered work addicts.
If you are often the last one to leave your office; unable to take breaks and/or are constantly plugged in at home, you may have an addiction. If so, your family and friends have probably mentioned their concerns about your overworking. Fret not—Dale Carnegie said, “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Choose a tactic to begin with, such as taking a regular mid-morning break, to develop success from failure. Next, enlist your colleagues, friends and family to help keep you accountable.
Boost Your Productivity by Breaking These Four Bad Habits
By Liz Scavnicky-Yaekle
Break these four bad habits to pump up your productivity.
Waking up without a morning routine.Rushing through the morning can have negative consequences on your sense of emotional well-being and overall productivity.Without
a morning routine, it’s easy to skip important activities such as
meditating, working out, and worse yet—skipping breakfast.Starting
your day off in a frenzy requires your brain to work extra hard as it’s
pumped with adrenaline first thing in the morning, inevitably causing
it to crash later on.Dale Carnegie’s first Human Relations principle to overcome worry, ‘Live in “day-tight compartments,”’reminds us to resolve and follow a morning regimen.Carve
out a morning ritual of what you must do before leaving for work to be
your best all day long, and watch your productivity, mood and attitude
Tackling easy tasks first.It is human nature to address the easiest of all of our day’s tasks first.The
satisfaction of crossing items off our to-do lists is all too tempting,
however this approach is an ineffective way to use our brains.Taking on the most challenging tasks early on in your day will maximize your productivity according to countless studies.For example, as revealed in the book, The Willpower Instinct, researchers have concluded that willpower is a finite resource that steadily declines during your workday.It’s best to tackle tough tasks early in the morning when you’re most focused.The
satisfaction and momentum from completing the more challenging tasks
will also give you a feeling of accomplishment and confidence that will
last all day long.
Rapidly responding.Yes, it’s important to be responsive, but interruptions such as instant messaging and a constant deluge of email jar our focus.The cost of rapidly responding is vast—it takes more than 25 minutes, on average, to resume a task after being interrupted!1When
the urge to respond to email is coupled with our psychological need to
check our social media notifications, our productivity plummets.Instead, carve out specific blocks of time when you will check email and your social media feeds.Turn off any notifications you possibly can to ensure you stay focused on the task at hand.Not
turning notifications off means they will continue constantly
interrupting you all day long, causing your productivity to crash.
Paying only half attention.All of the aforementioned distractions make it practically impossible to actively listen to other people.Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle, ‘Be a good listener.Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ underscores the importance of paying full attention to the other person speaking.Only
listening to half of what someone has to say can cause confusion and
sends the message that the other person frankly is not worthy of your
of looking at your laptop or phone during meetings or an impromptu
watercooler chat, make strong eye-contact and fully listen to the other
person.If not, it could cost you in terms of productivity—and relationships.
Are you comfortable saying, “no” to your boss? It’s important to be a team player, however if your boss continuously piles new projects on your plate, inevitably you will have to delay other work or worse yet, not complete the request at all—which will reflect poorly on you.
The ability to say “no” is a skill many employees need, but few foster. Following these three steps will spare you from wasted time and potential pain.
Hear your boss out.Dale Carnegie’s 13th Human Relations principle is,‘Begin in a friendly way.’ The first step to saying “no” without actually saying it is to validate the request. An affirmation such as, “I understand why this is a high priority,” shows that you are listening without actually accepting the request—yet. There could be someone to whom you can delegate the task or perhaps accepting the request may enable you to assign something else on your plate to someone else to allow you time to complete the new request. Consider all of the possibilities before you immediately push-back.
Dig deep for the details.Dale Carnegie’s 17th principle is, ‘Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.’ Your boss needs help, otherwise the request would not have been made. Perhaps the requested task is part of an overall company high-visibility project that you may actually feel honored to work on. Before you become flustered, ask clarifying questions to understand the timing and level of detail so you can ascertain exactly how much time the task will take and if there is anyone to whom you can delegate all or a portion of the task.
The answers to these questions serve as inputs to your response. For example, you may need to politely push back by asking for more time to complete the request or to request for help with one of your other responsibilities. By understanding your boss’s perspective, you’ll be able to confidently frame your response, even if it’s solely to ask for the afternoon to think about it. Unless the request is super urgent, your boss will most likely grant you time to evaluate.
Propose a viable solution.If you are leaning towards, “no,” develop a list of possible solutions to the challenge. There may be other team members who desire to grow their careers that would jump at the chance to work on the project. There could be an opportunity to postpone the request based on information to which you may be privy, but your boss is not. Maybe someone on your team has performed a similar task in the past and could complete it in half of the time that you would. List your options, ferret out the details and conclude which one or two options are the best recommendation to make to your boss. Your proposed solution will show that you have thoroughly and respectfully considered your boss’s request, and that you seek a win-win solution without saying, “NO.”
As leaders and organizations seek strategies to attract and retain top talent, many overlook one of the most basic and easily executed strategies—employee recognition. Shockingly, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days according to a recent Galluppoll.
It only takes a little to give A LOT. Employee recognition is free and easy, yet employees are rarely ever praised. Think about how you felt the last time someone recognized you for a job well done; amazing, right? Recognizing even the smallest successful step, for example, an employee who finally wrote a stellar report summary, pays major dividends for such little investment of time and resources. Dale Carnegie said, “Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving.” No matter how big or small of an achievement, be sure to praise employees and encourage others to do the same.
Positive feedback pays out beyond the workplace.A study conducted by the Harvard Business School concluded that hearing positive feedback makes employees more productive and happy, and helps to reduce their stress levels. When employees are happier at work, they are happier at home. From the study of positive psychology, we can glean that this ‘broaden-and-build theory’ of positive emotions means that the receipt of positive emotions broaden a person’s awareness level and encourages exploratory thoughts and actions. As time passes, this broadened behavioral method builds skills and resources.
Praise strengthens relationships. Switch gears and consider the person giving positive feedback versus receiving it. Not only does it feel good to commend others, but doing so demonstrates that the person actually pays attention to what the employee does and has therefore witnessed performance worthy of praise. This is one of our most basic psychological needs—the need for others to see and recognize the good in us. Praising others is therefore a win-win strategy.
One statement of praise can last a lifetime. If you excelled in an extracurricular activity during your school years, odds are you still have award ribbons, trophies, certificates of recognition, etc. stored somewhere. It is human nature to want to remember these prized moments of achievement, no matter how old we are. You can have a similar impact on another person! Something you say or an award you present to an employee may positively impact them for the rest of their lives. I still have cards, certificates and medals from both my school and early career days which I refer to when I feel discouraged.
Dale Carnegie said, “Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other man’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime – repeat them years after you have forgotten them.”
2016 Summer Olympics are a reminder that the ability to bounce back
from setbacks is a key characteristic of top performers. Dale Carnegie
said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished
by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at
all.” Here are four R’s of an Olympian mindset worth adopting.
Right work ethic- Many
people approach their professional roles with a ‘good enough’ attitude
wherein as long as they are completing the majority of their
responsibilities on a regular basis, they are satisfied. Some employees believe that should they go above and beyond their regular roles, they should be compensated for each action. This belief system is the exact opposite of the Olympian mindset. Dale Carnegie’s 19th Human Relations principle, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ implores
people to strive to be their very best—to do even more than what is
asked by anticipating needs both internal and external to the
organization, and delivering accordingly. Olympians don’t have to be asked to go above and beyond because doing so is inherent to their belief system. How can you step up your game in the workplace?
Rely on top performers- Young athletes leave their homes to train with top performers. They understand that isolating themselves among world-class athletes will enable them to improve their focus and performance. Olympic training is draining. These
stellar athletes rely on their teammates for emotional support during
the peaks and valleys of both training and competing. When you are unable to perform to the best of your ability, do you ask for help? Is
there someone on your team in whom you can confide or a top performer
who could possibly mentor you to achieve your ultimate potential?
Responsive to coaching- Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, offers insights for effectively managing criticism. Mr. Carnegie said, “Analyze your own mistakes and criticize yourself,” which concurs with the Olympian mindset. Top athletes rely on criticism from coaches, experts and teammates to improve their game. Instead of being discouraged by criticism, they are eager to hear it. Olympians understand that feedback is intellectual capital—expertise they use to excel. When someone offers you constructive criticism, are you open to it? How can you use feedback to improve your performance?
Rest and recovery- Unlike most American employees, Olympians consider breaks mandatory. Research showsthat only 1 in 5 five people steps away for a midday meal. Without a break, our brains are unable to maintain a high level of productivity. Only when we rest and return to the task at hand can we approach it with renewed and laser-sharp focus. Olympians rest during and in between training. Equally important, when they experience set-backs, they rely on their support teams to help them recover and rebound. If
you don’t step away from your desk for lunch or a quick walk, you are
undermining your mind’s ability to optimize throughout the workday.
When Gallup asked employees who were considering a career change or had recently switched employers to rate particular factors that influenced their decisions, the results were a bit surprising. Most employers assume that the primary motivator for a career change is increased income, however as the results show, other factors are more important. According to the study:
For workers who had switched jobs in the past three months, increased income ranked as the third influencer.
The number one reason for seeking a new job was because workers want to do what they do best.
Employees who have worked at a company for less than three years, compared to those employed with a company for ten or more years, strongly agreed that they were given opportunities to learn and grow. They also shared that someone had discussed their progress with them and encouraged their development, compared to workers employed for ten or more years.
The impacts of low retention are systemic and costly. In fact, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to procure their replacement. This means that an employee with an annual salary of $60,000 will cost the organization between $30,000 and $45,000 to hire and train a qualified replacement. Other research conducted by the Center for America Progress revealed that losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to a whopping 213% of the salary for a highly trained position.
Stellar leadership is the key to retaining employees. When employees feel comfortable discussing their progress and are encouraged to grow by their managers, they will thrive versus simply survive until the next job opportunity comes along. Unfortunately, many managers are so busy micromanaging employees, they often forget to praise them for a job well done.
Dale Carnegie’s 27th leadership principle is, ‘Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.’ He also said, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Praising employees demonstrates appreciation and respect, and helps foster feelings of ambition and competence. According to another Gallup study, employees who have supervisors that care about them, e.g. discuss their career progress, encourage development, and provide opportunities to learn and grow—have, “lower turnover, higher sales growth, better productivity, and better customer loyalty than work groups in which employees report that these developmental elements are scarce.”
’Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 24th leadership principle. Reinforcing trust and respect before offering negative feedback will soften the blow while still instilling the correction(s) that must be made. Providing constructive criticism is never easy no matter how long a leader has managed employees—unless the leader has acquired strong leadership skills.
If you recognize the need for improved leadership skills personally or within your organization, check out the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers course.
If you’ve ever driven a vehicle to your vacation destination, at some point, you had to refill its tank. Likewise, if you don’t refuel, you will come to a complete stop. The same can be said for your brain—if you don’t take a vacation, eventually you will deplete your brain’s reserve pool of power. Dale Carnegie’s third principle for How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is, ‘Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.’
Here are four reasons your brain wants you to book a vacation before the end of the year.
Your brain requires time off to help you reboot your concentration and satisfaction. 77% of HR professionals believethat employees who use most or all of their vacation time are actually more productive on average than those who don’t. Moreover, in a 2006 Ernst and Young study, researchers found that every ten hours of time off resulted in an 8% increase in performance reviews for the following year.
Dale Carnegie’s first principle for Cultivating a Mental Attitude that will Bring You Peace and Happiness is, ‘Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.’ It’s impossible to fill our brains with hope and peace when constantly working. We must literally unplug from our professional roles to allow our brains to recharge because our mental reserve pool of power is finite.
Use or lose your vacation time—and your mind! According to the U.S. Travel Association, workers typically fail to take even five vacation days a year. In another study, 57% of workers had unused vacation time at the end of the year. Another Dale Carnegie principle is, ‘Try to profit from your losses.’If you’re guilty of leaving vacation days on the table in previous years, set a goal to use most of them by the end of this year. Plan a vacation even if it’s a ‘staycation,’ so you can return to work rejuvenated and refreshed.
Brain performance improves when it is not tackling tasks because it can focus on connecting current ideas with previously acquired knowledge. Whether your role is in sales, customer service or even focused on serving internal customers within an organization, the ability to problem solve is critical. Taking a break enables our brains to disconnect from the day-to-day to reconnect current and prior knowledge. This enables our brains to consider both the macro and micro perspective of challenges, thereby making it easier to problem solve.
New skills are more easily acquired when your brain is completely relaxed. In 2009, experiments conducted by the Harvard Medical School proved that a relaxed brain consolidates power making it easier to memorize new skills learned the week before. A relaxed brain is also better able to stimulate creativity and help generate new ideas.
The next time you worry about whether or not you can afford to take a vacation, ask yourself if your brain can avoid not to take one.
Founded in 1912, Dale Carnegie Training has evolved from one man's belief in the power of self-improvement to a performance-based training company with offices worldwide. We focus on giving people in business the opportunity to sharpen their skills and improve their performance in order to build positive, steady, and profitable results. Headquartered in Hauppauge, New York, Dale Carnegie Training is represented in all 50 of the United States and over 65 countries. More than 2,700 instructors present Dale Carnegie Training programs in more than 25 languages. Dale Carnegie Training is dedicated to serving the business community worldwide. In fact, approximately 7 million people have completed Dale Carnegie Training