The frustrated Employee: Help me, Help You

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Many organizations today are focus on enhancing levels of employee engagement - with good reason.

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The frustrated Employee: Help me, Help You

  1. 1. help The frustrated employee:help you meMany organizations today are focused on enhancing levels of employeeengagement – with good reason >>In the rapidly changing environments most organizations However, many firms that enjoy high levels of employeenow face, where roles and responsibilities are continually engagement nonetheless struggle with performance. Inevolving, organizations depend on employees to act these environments, employees are energized by goals andindependently in ways consistent with their cultures, objectives and are eager to help their employers succeed.objectives and values. And faced with a challenging global But they themselves often indicate that they do not feel aseconomic climate, many organizations are needing to do productive as they could be. Engaging employees alone, whilemore with less, making the discretionary effort of employees clearly important, is not sufficient to sustain maximum levelswilling to ‘go the extra mile’ all the more important. of individual and team effectiveness over time.©2012 Hay Group. All rights reserved
  2. 2. The frustrated employee: help me help you The frustrated employee: help me help you Faced with a challenging global economic climate, organizations need to do more with less, making the discretionary effort of employees willing to ‘go the extra mile’ all the more important. What’s the missing piece? To borrow a line for the better eventually. But waiting for that from the movie Jerry Maguire, engaged time to come is very challenging. I’m almost employees seem often to be saying to their ready to throw in the towel.” leaders, “help me help you.” In other words, put us in roles that leverage our skills and This comment is reflective of themes that abilities and allow us to do what we do best. are common in many of our clients. This individual is committed to his or her job Give us the tools, technology, information, and anxious to make a positive contribution. support, and other resources we need to be effective. However, the lack of support from the organization and its leadership makes success And, finally, get out of our way. Don’t dilute hard to achieve. While still committed our focus and consume our energy with tasks now, there are ominous signs of potential that don’t add value. And don’t introduce disengagement or turnover in the future. procedural barriers that will interfere with our ability to get things done. Our research points to the fact that frustrated employees are unlikely to persist over Most organizations today employ a sizeable the long term in this state. Where strong number of people who are hindered at work. motivation to succeed is not paired with similar levels of support for success, one of These individuals are aligned with corporate three things is likely to happen. goals and objectives and are enthusiastic about making a difference – but they are Some engaged employees may certainly, held back by roles that do not suit them through force of effort, find ways to break and work environments that get in their way. through the barriers presented by low level These ‘frustrated employees’ represent a lost support and upgrade the work arrangements opportunity as commendably high levels of to match their motivational levels. But other motivation are not being translated into high frustrated employees may find equilibrium productivity, undermining the impact of by reducing their motivation to match their employee satisfaction programs. limited opportunities to succeed. That is, some engaged employees, weary of beating Frustration as an overlooked problem their heads against a wall, simply decide that in the work environment giving their best effort is not worth their Research from Hay Group indicates that time and stop trying. Still other frustrated in organizations today frustrated employees employees can be expected to vote with their may represent 20 per cent or more of feet and leave in search of greener pastures the total workforce. Below is a verbatim where their strong motivation to succeed can comment from one of these employees, be matched with more supportive working drawn from a recent Hay Group Insight conditions, leading to an unfortunate drain employee opinion survey: of an organization’s best and brightest talent. “ I need support, and my manager and his Unfortunately, organizations are generally boss are not doing their best to provide it. poorly positioned to identify and respond I am inundated with work, and I end up to the concerns of frustrated employees. staying here late each night. I believe in the Insofar as employee surveys have traditionally company and think we are one of the good focused on employee motivation (e.g. guys in the industry. I like my job despite satisfaction, commitment, engagement), this situation and I think things will change survey findings often fail to highlight issues©2012 Hay Group. All rights reserved
  3. 3. related to the supportiveness of work environments. And An organization may be able to succeed by force of the willfrustrated employees may be reluctant to voice their concerns of motivated employees in the short term, but sustainedin other ways. As they are typically highly committed to their performance is only built on adequate support for success.employers and their jobs, frustrated employees may not want Consider a case study example. For a major UK retailer, weto complain – and those who do may be unlikely to press the compared employee engagement and support for successpoint if work arrangements are presented as intractable. across approximately 500 stores with store-level measures of customer satisfaction and fiscal year revenue against target,Addressing frustration at work: collected at two different points in time.providing adequate support for successTo get the most from engaged employees, organizations must Employee engagement and support for success were bothposition them to channel their extra efforts productively. associated with better customer and financial outcomes –That is, motivation to contribute has to be matched with the but six months later, support for success was a much strongerability to contribute. In our view, support for success (the predictor of performance.ability of engaged individuals and teams to make maximum What’s needed to ensure that motivated employees havecontributions) has two key components. The first, personal the support they need to be optimally effective in their jobs?utilization, requires that employees are effectively matched to While requirements vary by industry and context,their roles, such that their skills and abilities are put to best our research points to four common support drivers.use. In deploying talent, leaders need to consider not onlythe requirements of the job and an employee’s ability to meet 1. erformance management. Clarity on personal goals Pthem, but also the extent to which the job will draw upon and priorities enables performance by allowing employeesthe employee’s distinctive competencies and aptitudes and to focus on essential, value-added tasks. Likewise, byfully stretch them. continually ‘raising the bar,’ ongoing feedback about performance helps ensure that employees are using theirThe second component, an enabling environment, involves full capability.structuring work arrangements such that they facilitate,rather than hinder, individual productivity. In an enabling 2. uthority and empowerment. Where employees have Aenvironment, employees are supported by processes, appropriate autonomy and discretion, they are better ableprocedures, and resources (e.g. information, technology, to structure their working patterns to suit the way theytools and equipment, and finance) that help get the job work best. And, by managing how they work, employeesdone. They are able to focus on their most important are more likely to find opportunities to leverage their skillsaccountabilities without having to work around obstacles and abilities fully in their job roles.in the form of non-essential tasks or procedural red tape. “ I need support, and my manager and his boss are not doing their best to provide it. I am inundated with work, and I end up staying here late each night. I believe in the company and think we are one of the good guys in the industry. I like my job despite this situation and I think things will change for the better eventually. But waiting for that time to come is very challenging. I’m almost ” ready to throw in the towel.
  4. 4. The frustrated employee: help me help you3. vailability of resources. An enabling environment A It is critical that organizations identify and respond to the requires that employees have the information and resources drivers of support for success together with the drivers of (e.g. tools, equipment, supplies) needed to do their jobs engagement. effectively. And, where employees are being asked to work hard, they understandably want to feel that they 4. anagerial development programs need to address M are working smart as well. key aspects of the work environment that are creating frustration. In particular, managers should be encouraged4. raining. In an enabling environment, employees are T to treat managing employee performance as a continual provided with job-related training to ensure they have dialogue rather than an annual event. Managers who the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out key tasks regularly discuss performance objectives with their and deal effectively with internal and external customers. employees are not only in a position to provide timely Appropriate training, which can turn potential into feedback but also to stay attuned to factors in the work productivity, is also essential to ensure that organizations environment that may be inhibiting employees’ success. get the most from the abilities of their employees. 5. eaders should identify broader organizational LDiffusing employee frustration: programs and initiatives which are out of alignmentrecommendations with key support drivers. In evaluating trainingWhile the drivers of employee engagement tend to reflect budgets, systems for fostering communication betweenissues traditionally associated with leadership, factors departments, or succession planning processes, leadersproviding support for success relate directly to the quality would be wise to consider the implications for fosteringof management in the organization. high levels of personal utilization and creating enabling work environments.Unfortunately, recovering from an undue focus onmanagement early on, the pendulum has swung in more Conclusionrecent years to an equally excessive focus on leadership Organizations that focus exclusively on employeein executive assessment and development programs. engagement are likely to be disappointed by the extentMany have overlooked the importance of solid management, to which improvements in engagement translate intoas a foundation to effective leadership, for the success of enhanced performance. For companies seeking to maximizean organization. individual and team contributions, we believe that engagement is not enough.We offer five recommendations for reducing frustrationin the work environment. From a productivity standpoint, the commitment and discretionary effort offered by engaged employees can easily1. eaders must recognize that a lack of support for L be squandered if leaders are not careful to position employees employees is a significant business issue. In an in roles that use their potential and to provide them with the environment where most organizations are straining to workplace supports they need to carry out their responsibilities. do more with less, frustrated employees represent a massive Organizations need to build the dual notions of employee lost opportunity: you are leaving productivity on the table engagement and support for success into their employee and alienating your most effective staff. feedback and survey programs, their operating practices, and2. rganizations should undertake strategic workforce O their leadership and management development programs to reviews to determine where support may be increase employee performance and business success. particularly important and/or likely to be lacking. Identifying support gaps is an obvious strategy for more effectively leveraging employee motivation. But it’s also important for leaders to consider where the How Hay Group can help support component of employee effectiveness may be especially vital. High turnover roles are one example. Hay Group’s Employee Effectiveness Survey When employees leave, they take their engagement with is powerful, online, employee survey tool them – but supportive work environments remain as an that helps you to cost effectively measure organizational asset. and analyze the levels of engagement and3. upport levels experienced by employees should be S enablement of your employees. monitored on an ongoing basis to give the frustrated employee a voice. Engagement surveys, focused on motivational outcomes, generally will not measure aspects of the work environment critical to enabling contributions from motivated employees. The old saying is that what gets measured gets managed. But the corollary is equally true: what is not measured will not be acted upon. To find out more please visit: www.atrium.haygroup.com©2012 Hay Group. All rights reserved

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