Charlotte, NC (June 13, 2012)—Employees: We love them, we hate them, we need them, we wish they were more dedicated, we wish they were more talented. The bottom line is, we wish they gave 100 percent all the time. We all want what Mark Murphy calls “hundred-percenters.”
Murphy, chairman & CEO of Leadership IQ, spoke to a group of more than 60 attendees at the Women Business Leaders Forum in Charlotte, N.C. The focus of Murphy’s presentation was how, as business leaders, we can fully engage our employees and get maximum effort from them. We all have our “great” employees, the ones we dream of cloning. Research shows that our best employees are the ones who are the most engaged. Our challenge as leaders is to determine how we can fully engage more of our employees and make them “great” employees.
According to Murphy, our first challenge is which of the four basic cultures best defines our firm:
1. The social culture prizes friendship over ideas and wants everyone to get along and be a part of the team.
2. The dependable culture relies on processes and procedures and requires everyone to follow the rules.
3. The hierarchical culture is very traditional and makes clear who the boss is.
4. The enterprising or entrepreneurial culture encourages new ideas.
The enterprising culture, says Murphy, tends to have the highest level of engagement from its employees, while the hierarchical culture usually has the lowest. In an enterprising culture, the leaders give up some of their control and the employees actually take ownership of their work, the organization, and the culture. Murphy encourages us to think about how we treat our own car versus a rental car, then, apply that same principle to how our employees regard the company that employs them. When they feel ownership of the organization and culture, they work harder to protect it.
Because leaders drives the firm’s culture, our next challenge is to determine what type of leaders we are. Before the conference, the attendees were asked to take an online survey to determine how we personally would handle certain situations as the leader of our practice. Responses fit into four general types of leaders: the Intimidator, the Avoider, the Appeaser, and the 100 Percent Leader.
The Intimidator challenges employees but has little emotional connection with them; the Appeaser has tremendous emotional connection with the staff but does little to challenge them; the Avoider mostly stays out of the employees’ way; the 100 Percent Leader is both emotionally connected to the staff and challenges them.
According to Murphy, research has shown that more than 70 percent of employees would prefer to work for the 100 Percent Leader. Getting the best performance from our staffs means that we must challenge them by setting high goals that require them to step outside their comfort zones and pay very close attention to their work. When employees aren’t 100 percent confident that they can achieve the goals set for them, they’ll be more careful about their work as they attempt to achieve their goals.
Once we’ve established our leadership style, our corporate culture, and the type of jobs we want to create for our staff, our challenge as leaders is to determine how our culture defines what a great employee is. And once it’s defined, we must clearly communicate it to the staff. Murphy suggests using a word picture by defining an employee who “needs work”, a “good employee” and a “great employee” in three columns on a single page so that the staff can see a definition of each. This makes it clear to your employees what you expect and gives you, as the leader, a means by which to measure greatness.
Once you’ve defined and clarified what a great employee is, you also need to classify and categorize each of your employees into one of four categories based on their skills and their attitude. The “bless your hearts,” as Murphy refers to them, have the best attitude but the lowest skill level; the “low performers” have bad attitudes and low level skills; the “talented terrors” have bad attitudes but high-level skills; and the high performers have the highest skill levels in combination with the best attitudes. These will be your great employees.
Most of the time, the difference between a good employee and a great employee isn’t skill level but attitude, which is entirely their own choice. When hiring, therefore, you must hire for both skill and attitude. According to Murphy, employees will fail 46 percent of the time, meaning that 46 percent of the people we hire, we wouldn’t hire again. Of those who fail, 89 percent fail because of attitude, not lack of skill.
In order to make all of our employees great Hundred-Percenters, our task is to diagnose our culture, set hard goals for our employees, assess and develop our leaders, create word pictures to define and communicate greatness, and manage our talented terrors.
— Shannon M. Edwards, ERPA, QPA, QKA, APR
President, TriStar Pension Consulting
ASPPA Member since 1996
Category: Member Focus