Leaders cannot engage people. People must engage themselves. All a leader can do is clear the way. Despite this, I often find overreaching conclusions from employee engagement surveys about leader’s capability that ought not be drawn, and decisions based on those conclusions that ought not be made.
Engagement is either in the nature of a person or it is not. Some employees will never be engaged no matter what you say or do because the business you want is not what they want. That’s fine, but perhaps they should be in a different role or in a different company. Other employees are simply disengaged from life, not just from your business specifically. You cannot fix that.
Empowerment is like breathing. We all recognize its need but we’re rarely aware of it until something is wrong. Passivity in business is the most common symptom of lack of empowerment. Continue reading →
Most global companies outside of Japan have targets for increasing numbers of women employees, particularly in management. And even in Japan where women are often given short shrift, more global companies now have such targets as well. However, the leaders of the most successful companies I know achieve their objective by doing things right that have nothing to do with women at all, and their businesses and all staff, both men and women, are better off as a result.
If you are the leader of a business in Japan or anywhere else, whether your business is subject to diversity targets or not, below is what I advise.
If you want to increase productivity in your business, work less not more. A division of Microsoft Japan reduced the work week from five days to four, closing the office Fridays for everyone, and found productivity jumped forty percent! Yes, that’s right. Microsoft in Japan—not Microsoft in the United States or elsewhere. If Microsoft Japan can boost productivity in this way, so can you in your business.
On the morning of March 11, 2011, I picked out a tie, checked myself in the mirror, and then left the house to go to Tokyo without knowing that I would never again leave that house the same way. It was only hours later that the massive 3/11 earthquake struck Japan and its deadly tsunami ensued.
If you want traction for change among individuals in your organization, it is only when there are clear standards of performance or behavior, accountability to meet them, and support to help people succeed that a change can take hold. In my experience, a deficit in any one of these three will alter the way any change is treated and viewed, and will lose traction as a result.
When a CEO asks me how to better motivate his or her employees to change, the focus is on the wrong thing. Motivation can get a person started, but only discipline can see him or her through to an outcome.