Employee Engagement: Trust with Co-Workers

Here are a couple of questions around coworker trust found on an engagement survey:

To help the leadership team understand how each of us are “wired”, we’ve all taken a personality assessment and created a cheat sheet which identifies the core ways we want to work with one another.

To create an environment of trust, as leaders, we need to let our team members know it’s O.K. to make mistakes. To create trust, we need to know each other as people. To do this, there should be a corporate calendar with scheduled business and social events.

Employee Engagement: Alignment with Goals

Below are a couple of questions that an employee would be asked about how they fit in the big picture:

The biggest way a leader misses the mark is tying the individual into the overall mission and goals for the organization’s success.

For mission and goals, as a leader, if we can’t explain how an employee fits into the big picture, we can’t expect them to!

Ditto on values… if we can’t succinctly say our values, we can’t our people to!

If you don’t have values firmly defined, Google “Jim Collins Martian Exercise” and use that as a plan to define your organization’s values.

For values to work, they need to be integrated into the fabric of the firm. Here are a few ideas we implement at Intertech to weave values into our day-to-day operations:

How do you get everyone on the same page with a goal for the company? Consider a theme! A theme is something company-wide. It could be around hiring, creating content, or whatever is needed to move the organization forward. Below are some thoughts on creating a theme:

Intertech Named the #4 Medium Sized Employer in Minnesota 

Image result for mspbj best places to work images

No. 4 Medium: Intertech Inc.

Intertech was named the #4 medium sized employer in Minnesota.  My thanks to our loyal customers and mega-dedicated team for making us possible.

Here’s an excerpt from the publication: “Software developer Intertech Inc. is receiving its 14th Best Places to Work this year. It’s one of the Business Journal’s winningest companies. Helping it attain this distinction are employee benefits that include three-month paid sabbaticals for every seven years of employment, a flexible work culture and selective hiring standards that focus on building a cohesive team.”

See the full article here.

9-to-5 in 2018: Surprising research about women in the workplace

Dabney Coleman, as the dastardly boss, in the old movie “9-to-5” exhibited all the worse behavior that men can use to make women miserable at work. Way before the #MeToo movement, which focuses exclusively on sexual misconduct, Coleman’s character also brazenly stole the good ideas of the women around him and made sure to “keep them in their place” to ensure his own dominance.

As an entrepreneur running a business in the 21st century – and the father of a whip smart young daughter with infinite potential – I’m committed to running a work place and helping to build a world where “gender equality” is more than just an HR catch phrase.

Achieving something approaching gender balance has become an important goal at Intertech. It’s challenging, in part because women in computer science has been on a decline since the 1980’s.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics and other institutions or studies, as a percentage, the computer science degrees granted to women is in the upper teens.  We’re not willing to use that excuse, though, and have begun looking for ways to actively encourage women IT professionals to apply. I’m also proud that the Intertech Foundation STEM scholarship has been awarded to prom ising young women three out of the four times since we founded the scholarship in 2015.

These are good things, but it’s more than just ethics or political correctness inspiring us to push for gender equity. Common sense tells us that women bring new ideas and approaches to problem solving – or do they? An intriguing and, frankly, surprising article (“What Most People Get Wrong about Men and Women” in Harvard Business Review (May/June 2018) shares the well-researched thesis that “Research shows the sexes aren’t so different.”

Huh?

Besides our obvious biological differences, Georgetown University professor Catherine H. Tinsly and Harvard Business School professor Robin J. Ely write that so-called “gender differences” at work are really the amalgam of popular myths. “Women lack the desire or ability to negotiate.” “Women lack confidence.” “Women lack an appetite for risk.” These and other popular myths are neatly demystified in this excellent article, which also exposes the real reasons women do not advance at the same rate as men in many industries.

As the old comic character Pogo once commented, “We have found the enemy and it is us.” This is not to say that all men are the equivalent of the sexist doofus in 9-to-5, but the research is indisputably clear that myths about women often turn into self-fulfilling prophesies that leave women behind as their male colleagues.

“The problem with the sex-difference narrative is that it leads companies into ‘fixing’ women, which means that women miss out on what they need  — and what every employee deserves: a context that enables them to reach their potential and maximizes their chances to succeed,” the HBR authors.

They recommend four steps for actively advancing gender equity and the advancement of women in the workplace:

  1. Question the narrative: Reject simplistic statements, such as “women lack fire in their belly” to explain why fewer women are in senior leadership positions within your firm.
  2. Generate a plausible alternative explanation: Instead of blaming women, look for alternative reasons such as different access to the conditions that enhance self-confidence and success (such as mentors).
  3. Change the context and assess the results: Treat women the same way you treat “star players” and watch how they perform. The results might (happily) surprise you.
  4. Promote continual learning: As leaders, we need to keep learning to recognize our own unconscious stereotypes. It helps to continually questions assumptions and proactively change conditions to give more women the opportunity to develop and shine.

As the authors conclude, “The solution to women’s lagged advancement is not to fix women or their managers but to fix the conditions that undermine women and reinforce gender stereotypes. Furthermore, by taking an inquisitive, evidence-based approach to understanding behavior, companies can not only address gender disparities but also cultivate a learning orientation and a culture that gives all employees the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

This approach might not make a great movie plot, but it might just win applause from your employees, customers and community.