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Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #10: I was recently asked during one of my management/leadership workshops to describe the top five managerial practices that engage employees and increase performance. This is not an easy task! There are many great managers in private, public, and nonprofit organizations who exemplify extraordinary leadership though their managerial actions. So my response to this question comes with the caveat that these are five practices that I've come to appreciate - after a couple of decades of management experience - as critical must-dos if we want to better engage our employees; but these aren't the only practices and your top five might be different! I'd love to hear your view on what practices make up your top five list.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: Neil's Top Five picks of managerial practices that engage employees, increase performance, and help create a culture of commitment:

  • Managers Don't Have Performance Problems ... They Have 'Expectation' Problems: Adopt a Mindset of Incremental Improvement. Set the positive expectation that everyone needs to be 'incrementally better tomorrow than they are today' (in both capability and results). Create 'positive tension' around continuous learning and continuous growth; be vigilant in your quest to eradicate Slow Leaks and other time wasters in the work done by your employees; don't ask questions to 'prove' (who was at fault) but, instead, ask questions to 'improve' (a process or procedure or outcome).
  • AFR ... AFR ... AFR: You can't give too much positive feedback as long as it's genuine and sincere. And the best way to do this is to use the Activity Focused Reinforcement (AFR) method (state the activity done and the positive impact it had on others). Seriously. It's like handing out treats at Halloween .... people love (sincere) reinforcement. Take a minute right now to send a positive email or make a positive comment. Trust me, that email will be read over and over. You can make someone's day with only a minute of your time.
  • By doing NOTHING, you're actually doing SOMETHING to performance: Be transparent with your employees about the tough stuff (even if you're uncomfortable addressing it). Never value your own comfort over the need to communicate a performance deficiency or a behavior problem or an attitude issue. If nothing is said to the employee, you're now condoning the practice. The minute something is not said about an inappropriate behavior/action is the same minute you shape and mold your culture to be more accepting of mediocrity.
  • DWYSYWD: Do What You Say You Will Do ... and do it by when you say you'll have it done ... or update those most impacted accordingly. As a leader, you set the tone. People come to trust you based on the consistency of your actions. BEHAVIORS SPEAK THE TRUTH. If you can't deliver something you've committed to within the time you committed to doing it  you own the necessary communication. It only takes 37 seconds to write, "Hey James, I got tied up in that budget meeting this morning and I'm now behind on getting the Q3 results you requested. Could I get them to you at 4:00 instead?" If nothing else, let people know where things stand.
  • It's NOT a Sign of Weakness to Ask for Help: If you're overwhelmed or don't know what to do next or can't seem to get it all done ... don't carry that burden alone. A good boss will want to know about this and most of them will have some advice to offer that comes from their own experience when they've been in the same position. [Note: This advice may appear more focused on you than your employees but your well-being directly impacts the work you do with your employees so I've decided to include it.]

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer


"Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job." — Ken Blanchard


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