Event Date: 04/22/2015 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
SARAH SHAFER: Developing “Thinking Managers” to Bridge the Engagement Gap, hosted by HRDQU, and presented by Ann Hermann-Nehdi. Today’s webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions you can always type them into the question box. We will be answering questions as they come in live at the end of the presentation or as a follow-up by email. My name is Sarah Shafer and I will moderate today’s webinar.
Ann Hermann-Nehdi is CEO of Hermann International and creators and trailblazers of whole-frame thinking and the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument. Ann also is the coauthor of the Whole Brain Business Book. Welcome and thank you for joining is today, Ann.
ANN: Thank you so much, Sarah. I’m delighted to be here and discuss a topic that I think continues to be top of mind for most of the organizations that we work with around the globe. And Happy Earth Day to all who are joining in. I see we still have people joining in. You’ll note on this slide that’s up that we’ll be putting this in the answer box for you a link to a landing page where you will be able to get a copy of a distribution version of the deck that I’ll be using today, so don’t worry about having to write a whole lot of things down because you will get access to that after today’s session. So we’ll be looking at a few key items today as I do have a very specific agenda.
Today’s agenda is really the first start doing just kind of a brief check in. Where are we on this engagement thing? We’ve been talking about it for a very long time. And share some recent updated stats and insights that I’ve collected. We’ll look at four challenges and drivers of engagement that comes out of some very recent research. We’ll look at how you engage the whole brain way and engagement and the brain go naturally together because conceivably everyone who is in your organization is a thinker and they all have brains and part of our challenge is engaging those brains. And then finally very specific keys to individualizing engagement for managers which is one of the key take-aways that we have.
I see a question popping up about getting access to the presentation and we’ll put a link in the answer box for you to do that. So one of the things I wanted to start off with this. I saw this cartoon as I was doing some preparation for today’s session. And I thought it was interesting. It referred to employee engagement and somebody’s saying, gee we’d like you to take a few minutes to complete this survey and the person’s like oh no, not another engagement survey. So we might actually be serving people so much that we’re moving from employee engagement to employee enragement. Let’s hope that’s not the case. But we’re clearly collecting more and more data on this and I think the good news about that is we’re able to better understand what some of those key levers are and key drivers that will actually help move the needle. When we look at whether or not this is still top of mind for senior leaders, a recent report by Bersin-Deloitte, highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t, called Leading in the New World of Work. If you just Google that, you’ll be able to pull it up. Looked at what they considered to be, and it’s a very large global leader survey, important in terms of trends to business, looking at some of the classic HR and learning issues that we are often looking at in talent issues and culture and engagement were right at the top. And if you look at the column on the right, it was also considered a very important, just slightly under leadership gap, but right up at the top in terms of being most important or very important. So, and I think the fact that they got culture and engagement together is not a surprise because I believe that they are interconnected and we’ll talk a little bit more about that as we continue to explore this topic.
I’d like to start with a poll and I’m going to launch this poll. I’d like you to be thinking about this right before I launch it. I’m curious about what your current approach to employee engagement is. Do you have formal approaches in place with full leadership support? Do you have formal approaches in place with limited leadership support? Are you more informal in your approach, but you still have leadership support to move to formal? Or do you have only informal approaches with very little leadership support? So I’m going to launch this. You’re going to pick just one. So if you would go ahead and I see all of you are jumping right in. I really appreciate it. I appreciate you jumping in and doing it quickly so that we get the results and be able to share those. Great, about half of you voted, so those of you who are still pondering, if you would make a selection, that would be fantastic. OK, very interesting data emerging. And if you are an independent consultant, you might think about one of the organizations that you’re working with if you feel like you’re seeing a trend out there. Great. Getting ready to close the poll. I’m going to close it and then share the data.
And very interesting as you look at what we’ve got here. So, 35 percent of you said you had informal approaches with leadership support to move to formal, which I think is very exciting. Then 29 percent formal approaches with full leadership support, that’s great. Next in line was only informal approaches with not a lot of leadership to move to more. That’s 22 percent. Then finally formal approaches with limited leadership support, 14. We did this with HR.com some months ago, and interestingly enough in that particular audience, the largest percentage was only informal approaches with no leadership support for more. And to a larger degree, close to 40 percent. But similar data across also informal approaches with leadership support to move to formal. And only 16 percent of them had a formal approach with leadership support. So, it sounds like many of you are working with some degree of leadership support, but if you look at the no leadership support category where we’re looking at quite a few of you who are trying to put this in place about 36 percent are saying over a third oh gee we’re not getting quite the leadership support we want. So, I think that’s important to recognize as we look at moving forward at how we can actually build that support. And part of that is like building a business case and clearly the business case there’s tons of data today that allows us to look at that business case. Here’s some recent data points: Value of Engagement to Improve Company Performance, this is Towers Watson. Low engagement firms had a shareholder value that was 44 percent below average. So low engagement really does hit the core essence of what is important to most organizations. High engagement firms had a shareholder return that was 19 percent higher than average. Just incredibly impressive. So when we look at there are some data points that we can bring to bear if you’re looking for support I think one of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate and share the ROI associated with this in terms of the business results. Again, this is a CEB data point. Companies that have highly engaged employees enjoy 2 and half times more revenue than lower engaged peers so that’s a top line measure. Certainly impressive. Hard to debate whether or not that’s important for most organizations today. Employees with low engagement, and this is really kind of scary, four times more likely to have their employees leave than those with high engagement. And we know how costly that can be and certainly it impacts us in financial ways as well. Just the US number for the cost of employee turnover is $11 billion annually. And when you look at that we have all sorts of ripple effects costs that come from that in an impact on our growth on ability to then, especially with some of the talent shortages tta are out there, we’re really scrambling to try to make up for that turnover.
So there are certainly quite a few data points. And when we look at where do we stand in terms of our ability to do this engagement work, there are several companies that measure this. And some of these surveys happen every few years, some of them happen annually. And you can see that when we look at the engaged workforce, about a third they are engaged, they are connected, they are positive, they give above and beyond and interestingly enough, when we look at the Gallup data, that’s 1014 data, that number has actually gone up slightly. In 2013 it was 29 percent so it’s gone up a few percentage points, which is very encouraging.
Partially engaged, kind of scary, about half, or a little less than half are partially engaged. Now this doesn’t mean somebody’s not a good employee, it means they do what they’re asked to do, go home, they really are sustainers, but not necessarily growers of the organization. And so that’s a critical group because that’s a group you want to move up into the engaged category, but they also are subject to getting moved down to the next category which is actively disengaged. And when we look at the Gallop data the partially engaged actually we saw a slight drop from previous data where it was closer to 54 percent in 2013. So, we’re seeing that drop a little bit and the engaged go up just slightly. But also in actively disengaged which is really these are the folks who sometimes actually go out of their way to undermine some of the INAUDIBLE they have a negative impact and can certainly influence others especially those partially engaged. We have between a fifth and a quarter of our population and that has gone slightly up from 2013. It was at 17 percent and now 17.5, so, when we look at the data, we’re making a little bit of progress, but not as much as we currently really would hope to get. And I think that’s part of the challenge as we look at what we’re trying to do.
Raise your hand if you would if you are seeing improvement in terms of the engagement and those you are working with. So if you just raise your hand if you are seeing some improvement. And I’ll take a quick scan to see whether how many hands are up and we have quite a few, but certainly not a large percentage of people saying that they are seeing a huge degree of improvement. I think that is again part of the challenge. Perhaps it’s part of why you’re on today’s webinar. To look and how we can improve, so we’ll talk about that.
I saw a recent HBR article which is referenced here which you might want to take a look at about what great managers are doing to engage employees. This is from some folks at the Gallop organization and one of the groups that is doing the surveying that we just shared. Their research shows that managers account for as much as 70 percent of the variants in employee engagement they scored 70 percent. That’s a huge variable, so that’s why looking at that manager role is so important. There are other variables that come into play, but we’re going to talk primarily about that manager role because I think that’s a place where I believe our profession also can help move the needle. So let me just ask you, what are your biggest challenges for your managers in creating employee engagement and we’re going to launch this poll in just a minute. But what I’d like to do is have you think about before we launch. Is it inadequate communication with employees by managers? Is there just not enough communication? Insufficient clarity of expectation from managers? I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Ineffective performance reviews where the focus is primarily negative? Or is it lack of manager ability to help employees develop in the future? So pick the number that you think is impacting you the most. I’m going to go ahead and launch that. We’ll see what your data comes in to say. This is some recent information that comes from some of Gallop’s data that talks about critical drivers, so I see many of you are jumping right in voting. Thanks much for doing that. I think this data can be important for all of us to understand. It also helps frame up maybe your thinking as we talk about some of these solutions about what you might be able to do to have the greatest possible impact that you can have. Ok, we’ve got about 2/3 of voters. I’ll let a few more get those votes in. It is a great way to share data, not only for yourself but for other who are here to kind of see what’s going on. OK, so let’s close this out. And I’ll go ahead and share the data.
Interesting as we look at this, you see that 36 percent inadequate communication with employees by managers, not surprised by that. I think that is becoming a huge challenge. Interaction is a big requirement for managers and they’re so busy that I think it’s often what falls to the bottom of the stack. Next 33 percent lack of managers’ ability to help employees develop in the future. And this may be a time issue but sometimes it’s a skill issue. Sometimes it’s a combination if issues. They might not know what those development needs might be. I think we can certainly help in that arena. 19 percent insufficient clarity of expectations from managers. Clearly I think that there are things we can do to help managers be clearer and more articulate in sharing those with employees. And then finally ineffective performance reviews where focus is negative, 13 percent. That’s great to see that we’re not having that issue, although I think there’s still some folks out there who believe that’s the case, 13 percent of you.
When you flip these around, you realize in fact there are four, they represent four drivers of engagement, so, those are challenges that you’re facing. When you look at the data, an important driver is really a focus on strength-based performance indicators. Really having the review process be focused on what is it that I bring to the table and how can I do that better? There’s also a lot of additional data that allows us to understand that employees really want to be doing work that they feel they can do well and so I think there was a trend for so many years to focus on the negative, we kind of 360’d people to death with all sorts of data on what’s not working. Really having an opportunity to think about how they can leverage their strength, not to blindside those things that are challenges, but that’s really a critical factor and that’s one key driver. Clarity of expectations is another key driver. So, what are you doing to help your managers be clearer in how they are articulating those expectations? How are they holding people accountable? What assistance do you have in place to facilitate that? Might be an interesting thing for you to explore. Frequent varied communication, a big complaint in terms of I’m only getting a lot of email. I don’t actually have one on one conversations and that connects back to that performance piece, because in many instances there’s just not enough live time with managers, but having that communication on a regular basis and those performance conversations on a regular basis, is clearly something that we’re seeing in the data that will help drive engagement and then finally the focus on future development which is so critical because we know that many employees, especially millennials are not interested in a 25-year career with organizations. They may only be there for a few years and they really want to know how are you going to contribute to my development and if I’m going to stay here and be engaged and not opt out for a better offer somewhere else, I need to better understand that and I need great clarity around that. So, thank you for providing that data, and I think these four key areas are areas, if one of them are very strong for you might want to look at going there first because there’s data that substantiates this will help drive greater engagement.
So another HBR article very recent in January of this year, asked this question: What are we doing wrong? I thought it was a really interesting question because it’s not as if we haven’t been paying attention to this. Companies are spending over $720 million in each year on employee engagement. And in fact, we’re projecting that that’s going to rise to $1.5 billion. Yet employee engagement is still not growing. At the rate we want it to be growing. We saw a tiny bit of improvement there especially in the partially engaged and engaged, but not enough to really get us to where we want to be especially for the amount of money we’re spending on this. And it was interesting, one of the conclusions that they came to, and I think it’s interesting is that most employees’ engagement models are centered around the work experience and not the employees themselves. Really understanding what employees want. And really only talking about work related or experience related, but not the employee themselves. I think the notion of understanding the actual individuals out there and how do managers engage, specifically with people, is data that we need to be focusing on. And I thought this was really an interesting way to begin to explore this particular issue and I see a comment here on focusing on development for older employees. I didn’t mean to say earlier that with millennials, the focus should not only be on them. I think the development has to cross all generations. What I do know is there is big sensitivity in the millennial age group to this notion of development perhaps even more so and they may be quicker to jump ship than others, but development is important across all generations. And thanks for bringing up that comment. That was certainly important to clarify.
As we look at this idea of how do we focus on the employee, let’s define what we mean by engagement. I think that’s important and I know that there’s a lot of stuff out there about it, but I think we can define it in a pretty simple way. I think if we’re focusing in the employee, how do we win the hearts and minds of employees in ways that inspire them to deliver high performance? We have to work in a way that works for them, because ultimately when we see high engagement, what it means is that they are doing what needs to be done, because they want to do it, not because the organization wants them to do it. Doing what needs to be done and often more than what needs to be done. And to get that more piece, we’ve got to really unhook what it is that they want and link into that piece. And we know from research that I’ve seen out there and I think it continues to be true when we begin to ask employees what they’re looking for, they’re really looking to do what they’re good at so they want a fit in terms of their abilities. They want to do things that matter. And so they want to feel like they are making a contribution and want to understand what that contribution is. They as we just said want to be doing something that drives them forward in their career again to the point made earlier irrespective of where they are in that career. And then finally, they want to have passion about what they’re doing. So the notion of looking for ways to do this in a way that inspires them to deliver the performance I think is really key.
It all starts with an awareness that people again are different. So if we start talking about how do we understand what is going to inspire them? It is a bit of a challenge because we know from our research and we’ve been doing this for 30 years, that people have different thinking preferences and those preferences will impact a wide array of aspect of who they are at work, how they show up at work and what they care about at work.
And we know that everyone processes information differently. Different people are going to need different things to feel like they are heard, to feel like they are being engaged, so we need to go in with the assumption that this is complex, that not one size fits all and even though I’m preaching to the choir because I know those of us in our profession know that it’s important to remind our leaders and our managers of that. And our model serves as a way to begin to understand some of those differences, specifically how are brains need to be engaged in a way that is most relevant to each of those unique employees that you’re dealing with. And the Whole Brain Model, which came from research that we did over 30 years ago at GE looking at neuroscience and translating that into key indicators that cluster together into this model, help us begin to describe in ways that are most important what we can do to really have the greatest possible impact on a wide array of folks.
So if you look at the logical, analytical and fact-based, quantitative aspect, you may actually feel that that represents some of your thinking. And engaging with a person who’s got strong preferences in that area means that they actually want the bottom line and they like to be able to have data. They want to understand exactly how they are contributing in a very concrete way.
Organized, sequential, planned, detailed, green perspective, really is going to want that clarity of expectation and really understand the structures and processes needed to get there.
That red, interpersonal, feeling-based, kinesthetic, emotional, perspective is really going to be focusing on that communication and that interpersonal engagement with their manager.
And then finally that holistic, intuitive, integrating, synthesizing perspective is going to have that future focus. Look at the big picture, they really want to understand how they fit and how they’re contributing to the whole. Now we know from our research that 95 percent of the population actually has preferences for two or more of these. So we’re not single individuals, we’re kind of relegated to one quadrant. We have preferences across all of these different areas and all of us have access to all four. So this makes the manager’s challenge particularly interesting because we need to be able to speak multiple languages when we’re engaging. We may not always have data on preferences on those we’re trying to engage. And so this puts a requirement on our managers to really broaden their spectrum of thinking and be able to look at, well, how might I communicate to someone who’s got more blue/green oriented preferences provide them with data and structure. Or more blue/yellow, help them understand the big picture and give them specific goals within that big picture. Or red/yellow being more oriented well I understand where we’re headed but how do I best engage you in that direction. Or green/red together which might be more about OK, let’s understand specifically what it is that you need from me then let’s look at some specific processes we can build to get there and how I can support you.
So let’s take a look at digging into this a little further so that you can begin to understand how you can walk away from today’s session using it. So, we’ve got these different thinking preferences, and one of the things we know is for managers to individualize engagement, there are really five things that they need to do really well. They need to own their own preferences. That is a big piece of the puzzle because their preferences are going to impact how they engage with others. So they first need to understand what they are and own responsibility and accountability for theirs. They need to value other preferences. They need to stretch to meet the needs of others. Align and coach. I’m seeing several comments about how well, gee, this is a little like situational leadership. This is a little bit like personality assessments like ??-Briggs. Let me give you a quick frame of reference to think about. So there are many models out there. Personality assessments really look at who we are from a personality perspective. And in many instances for many people kind of are wired and it’s pretty much who we are. Disks and 360s and other assessments look at behavior and behavior tends to be quite situational so it’s got a strong external component. The Whole Brain Model looks at the cognitive picture of how we’re processing information and are thinking. And much of what we do at work today is thinking. And much of what we’re asking people to do, making decisions, solve problems is thinking based. So, none of these is mutually exclusive, you get different data points, but, the Whole Brain Model allows you to begin to understand how you are engaging the brain, so to speak, of that person and we know from our data that you can shift your thinking if you’re conscious and so your preferences are your first frame of reference, but we can change and shift our thinking as required when we’re aware of those preferences. So, thank you for bringing that up. Social Styles is another behavioral model as well, so thanks for bringing that up. There are many models out there and that helps differentiate behavior, personality and cognitive recall on the cognitive domain.
So own value stretch align and coach and we’ll dig into each of those so you can better understand what that means. And I’m going to start and get personal. Let’s talk about you. I think this makes a lot more sense when we think about ourselves first. Just raise your hand if you have actually or are currently in a situation where you are managing someone or are leading someone. So just raise your hand if that’s something you’re either done or are doing currently so we can get a sense, I mean this is certainly going to be relevant to people on the call. We have quite, most of you in a position where you are either have led or are leading or in the future raise your hand if you think you will be leading someone in the future and providing that. First and foremost, let’s think about you. How can you better own and be accountable for your thinking preferences? This is a big piece of the puzzle for managers. And that requires that we first understand how we think. And we can focus on the strengths as a way to get started here with a strength-based approach.
So take a look at what you see on the screen. And as you look at that you’ll see that there are these four quadrants and somebody’s saying gee, is this right brain and left brain? That initial research looking at the left brain and the right brain, left being more blue green, right being more yellow red, is clearly going to align with these. However, we want to be really careful because left brain right brain implies to many people that it’s an either/or construct. And we know that the brain is designed to be highly integrated and interconnected. So, yes, absolutely, this comes from some of that initial research, but, takes it a step further to look at full brain. So take a look at what you’ve got here and you might think about each of these different quadrants. And you yourself, as you think about your role in engagement are you all about theories and facts and looking at logical processes and excited about doing critical analysis and more of a blue perspective? Is that kind of how you like to take a look at this issue of engagement or learning or the other areas of focus that you might have. Is it more about getting very practical? Looking at consistency and processes, getting organized around how do we actually execute this and being very, very clear. And having clear expectations and processes to execute against that and perhaps that’s your preference. Or maybe you’re more about understanding the people side of this. Very good at sharing, teaching, engaging others and understanding the emotional element the values component of this that would be more red. Or finally the yellow, really big picture, trying to think about the organizationwide implications of this, understanding new ideas and concepts, often looking for new and innovative ways to actually execute and solve this particular issue.
As we look at that, you might think about how you are best engaged. Do you get most convinced by results, precision and analysis? Details, practicality and a plan? Passion, shared values and empathy? Or new ideas, room to play and vision? So I’m going to invite you to just do a quick poll and we’ll see what that means for you. So we’re going to go ahead and open this up and let’s just take a look at what your strongest preferences are. Convince me with values and empathy; details, practicality and a plan; results, precision and analysis; new ideas, room to play and vision. So let’s take a quick look at that. I think is going to impact how you go about helping bridge the gap with this engagement issue, what you’re going to pay most attention to. Great, I see you’re jumping in. Some of you have already. There you go, oh yeah, a question about quadrants tied with strengths finder for domain. I can talk about that maybe toward the end of our time together if we can. There’s a question about is there an assessment that goes with this. There actually is an assessment that was mentioned in the introduction. We have an assessment that came out of that initial EEG research that was done called the HBDI the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument which most of our research is based on. Over 2 million people in our current data base and some of the data I’ll be sharing with you. So, great, many of you have finished here. So, let’s share the data. And take a look and you’ll see it’s interesting 36 percent, convince me with new ideas, room to play, so that means that you’re going to be interested in the big picture and innovative ways to do this. Then next 33 percent the details, practicality, and a plan. So that’s going to be very, very, what are the processes that you need to put in place and then a tie between shared values and empathy at 16 percent and results, precision and analysis, 16 percent. You might just take a moment and look at, OK, what would your boss or your external client. What would they need to get buy-in to an engagement process. Just type in blue, green, red or yellow into the question box. What do you think your boss would need for this? Because I think our preferences have an impact, but what do you think your boss would need? Go ahead and type that into the question box. And let’s see if, and you know, if it’s different, than what your preferences might be, raise your hand. So go ahead and type it in. Lots of blue and green coming in. Tons of green. Results, results, results. A few have a little bit of yellow popping in. It’s situational so some of you may have to be situational. OK. A little bit of red, but just tons of blue and green coming up and many of you are raising your hand saying, oh my gosh, but this is so different from my perspective. So, it’s important to understand you perspective on this because the way go about getting that leadership buy-in has a lot to do with you position what it is that you’re going to do. So, keep that in mind as we talk about this, not only about the managers, but it’s also about you, and that’s why I wanted to share this with you.
As we look at that, one of the questions that came up just a moment ago was well, gee, can your HDBI preferences change over time. Yes they can, but it’s not a casual change and so what we found is that our preferences stay pretty much stable unless we’ve had a major change in our life, a job change, career change, or life change. So, we know that 63 percent of employees say their manager has a direct influence on their satisfaction and engagement. So, not only is this relevant to you, it’s relevant to every manager that you work with. And managers have to own the implications of their preferences because that will impact how they engage. It will impact what they think is important. Often we engage in the way we like to be engaged. I know I worked with somebody for years who just said to me well, you know I don’t understand why this person is coming in sharing all this detail. I’m just drowning in detail and it drives me crazy and I’m not going to spend a lot of time providing them with details. Huge disconnect from a very big picture, leader, and their direct report who brought full degree of perspective and that individual felt completely disengaged, did not feel like they were getting any kind of recognition for the work that they were doing and it helps to begin to understand the dynamic, they wasted a lot of time and energy on it.
So when you’re looking at making that engagement pitch, lots of times what we do know is that people are experiencing these differences every day. And many instances, T.E.A.M., teams are part of the way we experience this on a daily basis and we know everybody’s different and that crops up in teams quite a bit. Together everyone annoys me. And so we have an opportunity to move that annoyance of difference into something that is a critical shift which is to value difference. Those annoyances show up in terms of frustrations. So take a moment to think about what frustrates you most. And again, in the spirit in understanding what managers might need to learn, what frustrates you most? So take a look at does it really drive you crazy when there’s a lack of fact or data in the blue? If things are popping around and there’s not enough clarity around practical implementation, is that going to irritate you in green? If it’s really insensitive and there’s not enough time for really a people orientation, will that make you crazy in red? Or if it’s just too big picture, so I’m going to go ahead and launch this and have you share what it is that frustrates you the most. So let’s go ahead and do that. Go ahead and place your vote. What is it that frustrates you the most? And again keep in mind that this again is something our managers will also be experiencing. In some instances, it’s our strengths that get in the way. In other instances it’s our frustration. I knew a manager who was so frustrated that as soon as a person showed up in their chat box or in a live situation, at the threshold of their cubicle, they basically shut down. It was like, oh no! And frustrations do that. They shut us down. So go ahead and finish up your votes. I have a lot of people voting. I’ll give you one or two more seconds to put your votes in. We’re going to close it out and we’re going to share the data. OK, many of you are going to get frustrated again, equal opportunity frustration and I define frustration as unmet expectations. So getting very clear about what those expectations are is a direct antidote to the frustration that people feel and we heard that earlier in the data around the importance of being clear around expectations. So again that’s going to be a critical factor in terms of looking at what we’re doing and what we need to do.
As we look at that data, managers can understand, adapt and harness. You can. All of our research on the brain shows we can shift our thinking. Great question here about have we seen value in teams sharing their dominant selves with each other. Absolutely. In fact, we have data that shows that the teams that have that data and have been able to understand how different they are using their thinking self preferences can see an increase of up to 66 percent more effectiveness in their output. It’s because they understand that why people are coming at it from a different perspective, number 1. Number 2, they can own their own preferences and number 3, they can adopt your language. So great question and that is something we certainly have seen out there.
So, valuing. We talked about owning valuing into thinking preferences of others and their strengths is really important. You might say, well, think different, but not different from me. I love that comment I just saw which is well frustrating me is better than angering me. I think that notion of really heading into this notion. How do we help managers begin to value thinking preferences and when they begin to understand that different occupational categories will bring different thinking preferences to bear. Here you see some sample HBDI profiles that clearly show the strongest area in the color is the strongest preference. And you get a sense of some of the different functional categories and so as you work across function, you need to be prepared that you will have different engagement challenges with your managers. They’re going to be looking at engagement differently. You’re going to be talking about it to them differently. And they’re going to be more comfortable using some of these strategies than others. They may need more coaching in an area of red. If they tend to be more naturally blue oriented, or blue-green oriented in their thinking, they may not be really comfortable with the future conversation. That’s something that does not come as naturally to them, so, very important to keep that in mind as you look at this notion of valuing preference and how we can help them do that more effectively.
If we look at stretching, that is one thing that is there’s great research now that shows that we can shift our mindset. If you’re not familiar with Carol Dweck’s work on mindset, we know from her research first of all you have to believe that you can shift your thinking. If you don’t believe you can shift your thinking, that will get in your way. But we can change people’s opinions and once you believe you can shift your thinking you actually can. Setting the stage for understanding that your thinking can shift, is the first step towards stretch and I think that stretch piece is part of the reality of this engagement issue. It’s the only way that we’re going to get there is by having managers understand that they do need to stretch and that in fact they need to develop thinking agility. And the way we define thinking agility is the ability to deliberately and consciously adapt and shift your thinking when and as the situation requires it.
So deliberately and consciously, those are two critical words. So, once you believe that you can do it, then you need to very intentionally, it takes effort; it takes energy. Managers need to understand that this is part of their responsibility and in order to get their teams better engaged, they need to be agile. They need to shift their perspective to better meet the needs of the perspective that others are providing and needing from them. And so as you look at that, think about ways that you look at your thinking agility as you’re looking at how to get engagement better bought into in the organization. I believe, and I’m hearing so much buzz and demand for thinking agility out there in the marketplace and I think it’s because our work now requires it. Almost at every level of the organization, but certainly of managers. Managers need to engage their whole brain.
We can kind of even joke about it. We’re looking for someone who can stretch with the demands of this job. Are you flexible? So in some ways we all have to be Gumby, and this is situational management, situational leadership. We’ve been talking about this for many years. I agree with many of you who are making that comment if situational thinking and one of the things I think is interesting is when you give people the knowledge that first of all they have preferences, but next that they actually can shift their thinking beyond those preferences and not be a prisoner of those preferences. It gives them ownership and accountability and also a very nonjudgemental way to talk about what it is that they can and need to do. And I think that’s one of the reasons why brain-based approach is so appealing to so many organizations.
If we look at engaging through communication, one of the ways they can stretch is just by thinking about how they communicate and we talked earlier about you and what you needed for better communication, so, if you’re looking at needing results, precision, and analysis, there are very specific things that you want to focus on when you’re communicating and we saw how important communication can be. If it’s details, practicality and a plan you’re going to want to be providing that in a step by step kind of approach and stay on task. If you’re looking at passion and values, you want to really look at how you can express and engage people in a way that they feel heard. And then finally, new ideas, room to play and vision, use metaphors, visuals, other ways to communicate that will engage. Everybody is really looking for what they need. Just as you want to be engaged in a way that best fits your needs. So to the employees and to the managers who are working with them and they need to understand how to do this. And almost everybody can do this. Unless they’re just dead set against it and decided that they won’t. It’s a question of providing them with the tools that they need.
I love this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “A mind that is stretched by experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” And everything that’s out there in brain research shows us that our brains are what they call plastic. They’re malleable. So, that’s the good news. It’s a message of hope for all of us. And that is that we can stretch our thinking. But I think many people may assume that that’s just not something they can do or that they’re not hardwired a certain way and they may actually use that as a copout instead of taking that time and energy to think about how they can stretch to meet the needs of those they’re trying to engage. So finally, once you’ve stretched out, managers need to find ways to align the work with the preferences and the employees with the initiatives that they’re working on. And this issue of alignment, I just finished updating the Whole Brain Business Book, which will be released in May.
And very excited about this book. We did tons of research to look at, study the over 2 million people we have in our data base. It really provides specific tools and tips, learning from our 30 years of research, with a big focus on practicality. One of the things we discovered as part of that process and we have a chapter on this is the issue of alignment on work preferences. I mentioned earlier that people want to feel like they are doing something they are good at and that matters and that they have passion around. And we don’t always have full control of this. But I think managers, one of the ways they can really improve this engagement is to begin to look at how is that fit. Is there alignment? Where is there misalignment? We had an interesting example working with an employee and their role and so you see in the profile, this is the HBDI profile of a specific employee and this is one of the examples we have in the book. And the actual role so we created a “performer profile of the job,” so to speak. We discovered that there’s misalignment. This person was immensely frustrated. All of their time and energy was going into details that they absolutely hated to do. And they weren’t performing well. So having that conversation, suddenly they realized that there was a way to shift some of that responsibility to another person and leverage some of the big picture thinking that this person was bringing to bear. And ultimately this person became a real success story for that organization.
Another example of a shift, well even if you might say, kind of close, blue and green, but again, great frustration on the part of this case as a manager, they just didn’t get why this person seemed so stuck in the details and unable to really focus on some of the critical analysis that needed to happen. So providing the tools and way to visualize how to understand where there’s misalignment is really important. When you have an alignment gap, things show up like poor performance, low job satisfaction, insecurity, and high stress. All which impact the engagement issue of course. Thinking managers can create connections and help align by providing and behaving in a whole-brain perspective using a whole-brain approach.
Providing rationale and purpose, consistency, clarity, procedures, collaboration, development, values, strategy, direction, and possibility. They really need to be agile; they need to leverage their whole brain. And if we look at our data over the thirty years that we’ve been working, the most effective leaders actually do that. CEOs tend to be more naturally whole brained because their work has always required it. But what’s changed in the last decade is that this requirement is shifting down to the director and manager level.
Senior leaders play a role here in engagement because they need to be translating the vision, mission and values down into goals, objectives and strategies. And here’s the challenge: Managers are often the bridge between those two. And so they are often finding themselves part of that translation so it puts an even greater burden on managers to communicate effectively, to translate some of those critical pieces into the actual objectives, goals, and strategy, and I think it’s a big part. It doesn’t take the senior leaders off the hook; they absolutely need to be communicating in as much of a whole brain way as they can but I think the burden in today’s world often falls on those managers who bridge that gap and really have an impact on the engagement piece.
And finally managers need to learn how to coach more effectively. Gosh, when you think about it a decade ago, we weren’t talking about coaching and now coaching is everywhere. And when we see a good coach makes people see what they can be. I think managers if they are focusing on an employee and what they can be that opportunity, the strength piece really understanding that development opportunity, that can go a long way in really helping not only that person understand what they can deliver, but also where they might need to stretch so they too can leverage their whole brain. But always starting off with that strength-based approach.
So finally, you might say well why and interesting way to ask why might they not be engaging. Let’s look at that from a whole-brain perspective. They might think they’re already engaged. Or they don’t know that they’re supposed to be engaged differently. So I think we have a role in our profession to explain what engagement is. It might seem obvious to us what we mean by engagement. Let’s make sure we’re explaining it clearly and that we’ve given people clear enough set of data points understanding exactly what we mean. They might not know how to show that they are engaged. Or to demonstrate that they’re not engaged, and when to do that, and we want to know when they’re not engaged as when they are. And so here you might be able to develop them in a way that helps them understand what is it that we can do to help you better understand how to talk to your manager, how do you have that conversation if you’re not getting from your manager what you need? And in the red there may not be any positive consequences. What’s in it for me? And they may not even realize the effect on others from not being engaged and as you look at that, that’s an opportunity to connect using data points and providing them with an opportunity with their team to understand how they are affecting others using tools like the HBDI or other tools. And yes you will get a copy or an outline and the Power Point through our landing page, there’s a quick question there, I want to make sure that you knew. So, finally as we look at the yellow, they don’t know why. Why should I do this? Or they say well this is beyond my control. I think we need to inspire them and help them understand how this is going to help them and why there is value for them in terms of looking at their own development and their own growth. So, I think we have a very important role to help managers move through this process.
So, keys for managers to individualize engagement. They need to own and be accountable for their thinking preferences. That is the first step. Obviously awareness comes prior to owning. But once they have that awareness, they need to really own it. They need to value the thinking preferences of others and their strengths and stretch to engage towards them so they can better engage them in the way they need to be engaged. Help align work with preferences and employees with initiatives when they can, so that you can get that passion connection that is so critical to driving engagement in today’s environment. And finally coach to help others stretch and leverage their brain when we don’t have exquisite alignment and we know that most roles do not allow for that exquisite alignment so be there as a coach to help those that they work with really understand how they can better leverage what they bring to the table and stretch and so as you look at that have an opportunity to look at that value add that managers can really play.
Quick example of an organization. Christiana Healthcare took the Gallup Questions and you might raise your hand if you’re using the Gallup questions, the 12 questions that matter most and they aligned them with the quadrants and saw in fact that they’re pretty whole brain. So one of the things that they did to get buy in from their senior leaders was to say you know what, if you begin to understand to become more agile in your thinking preferences you’re going to hit more of these 12 more of the time. And so, it’s kind of an interesting way to get buy in and they got broad uptake of the use of thinking preferences, saw increased engagement, not only with their leaders and their leaders internally, but they also saw their patient satisfaction scores go up. So a really great example of how you can bridge between some of these components. Make sure that you draw the link between your initiative and the ultimate results that you’re trying to draw.
So we have just a few minutes left to discuss this and to ask some questions, so let me hand it back to you Sarah. I think there are a few questions here that we want to tackle.
SARAH: Yes, there is. Thank you so much. And we probably have 5 minutes for that live Q and A, so attendees why don’t you go ahead and submit those questions now. And while we wait for those questions to come in why don’t I share about how to keep in touch. On that slide is Ann’s website hermannsolutions.com as well as their email and phone number are also listed on that slide. And you can always keep in touch with us though the regular social media networks as well as register for our weekly Wednesday webinars at HRDQU.com and we are also excited to announce we’re hosting the first-ever 5-day ROI boot camp at the end of April. And you can register for that at HRDQU.com.
And we do have a number of questions coming in so why don’t we go ahead and get started. Looks like the first question is coming from Crystal: What are the strategies to engage managers to their role to think and value thinking employees?
ANN: As we think about that I think the notion of, the first step I think is helping them understand themselves. I think it always starts with self and I use that strategy with you. Every manager is also an employee and need to be engaged themselves. I think as you look at getting started they may also have engagement challenges. They have had engagement challenges in their career. They are not just the purveyors of engagement, they are the receivers of engagement. In just the same way that I did with you, I think it’s very useful to invite them first to think about what they need for engagement, what works for them and to help them begin to understand that one size doesn’t fit all, what it feels like to be disengaged. What it can feel like to have that mismatch in terms of role and then take it to the next level to say, OK, now that you understand that, now think about what the impact will be for those reporting to you. I have a bias toward that, because I believe that once they begin to understand their thinking plus you get the bonus of their being educated in how they think first, and then you can then move towards getting them to own the responsibility for that, so that’s certainly how we’ve done it, and it’s been a very effective way because you’re addressing their needs first and then going to the needs of those that report to them versus just focusing on the people reporting to them. Hopefully that’s helpful.
SARAH: OK, perfect. Thank you. And it looks like we probably have time for just one more and it looks like we probably have time for one more, this one’s coming from George: What advice for guiding managers to stretch?
ANN: So the first step is making sure that they know they can stretch. The mindset work by Carol Dweck is very powerful. You first have to verify that they understand that they can actually change their thinking and intelligence is not sort of hardwired for life and that we can’t change. And if they don’t, then you need to provide them with data that shows them that they can. And then providing them with some of what’s in it for them in terms of why is engagement going to help them, they will be able to see that work gets done faster, that their goals are getting met faster. And if we make assumptions because we know why this is so important, and we have all that data that other people know that. So you really have to build a business case for them, because you’re taking time out of their day and they don’t always realize that this is really important. That they can move the needle themselves. I think you have to build a business case and make sure that they know they can do it and then finally first provide the tools. Give them some specific tools they can use. You can use communication models etc. As ways to do that. And I know we have an opportunity to send some answers by email so I know the strength finder question came up and I’ll try to respond to that by email follow-up.
SARAH: All right, perfect. Ann, would you like to add any final thoughts before I go ahead and wrap this up?
ANN: Absolutely I just want to say, you know, we all know what it takes to engage. And I think first and foremost, is think about what you are doing to engage your leaders in this process. What you’re doing to engage your managers. What do they need to hear from you? And then think about your program and diagnose it, which quadrant are you hitting? Which ones might you be overlooking? And how can you leverage your own brainpower to move the needle on engagement and have that impact? Because we can all do it.
SARAH: All right perfect, well, Ann, thank you so much again. And that is all the time we have for today. If we did not get to your answer today, you will receive an email response to those answered questions probably about Wednesday of next week. So we appreciate your time and we hope you found today’s webinar informative.
When it comes to bridging the engagement gap, are your managers part of the problem or part of the solution? There’s a wealth of research showing that managers not only play a large role in whether or not employees are engaged, they often don\’t seem to know what will actually engage them.
This session will show you how to apply current studies from the newly published Whole Brain Business Book-Second Edition, along with more than 30 years of research on thinking, learning and the brain, to transform your leadership development strategies and build an environment where everyone is encouraged and motivated to bring their best thinking to work. By exploring the impact of thinking preferences on communication, work processes, job fit, coaching and more, you’ll learn how to develop managers and leaders who see past their own preferences to focus on what will truly engage and retain an increasingly diverse employee population. You’ll take away an easy-to-apply model for understanding how to “meet people where they think” so your organization can get the full benefits of its cognitive diversity.
Participants Will Learn
- Use a brain-based system to develop leaders who can effectively engage, motivate, inspire and retain a diverse employee population
- Align engagement, learning and leadership strategies with business and thinking requirements
- Apply practical tools to diagnose and adjust current approaches to improve engagement and outcomes
- Create an action plan for using a thinking baseline to bridge the engagement gap
Who Should Attend
- Managers and team leaders
- Organization development professionals
- Human resources managers
- Management consultants
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi is CEO of Herrmann International, the originators and trailblazers of Whole Brain® Thinking and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®). Ann is the co-author of The Whole Brain Business Book–Second Edition.