What Women Want … At Work

Female-workfoce-640x480There has been a lot of talk in the past about how to motivate ones employee to perform better and whether the motivational factors for women are different from those for men. The number of women being added to the workforce in Pakistan has increased considerably, enough to ask – how many of us actually make it to top ranking positions and stay there?

Employers may argue that they don’t have enough qualified and developed female employees to promote to top level positions. If that is the case, it should be the responsibility of organization leaders to invest in the female workforce and to create a corporate culture that appeals to top female performers. However, the question still remains: What appeals to the top female performers? What Do These Women Want… At Work?

According to an article by Dr. Romila Singh, “Corporate America has made huge strides in attracting top-notch female talent to their workplaces, but they rapidly lose them – not for gender-specific reasons, but gender-neutral reasons. Retention is closely tied to advancement: same for women as it is for men. What is Corporate America doing to close the revolving door for women?”

After decades of research, the question is no longer what women want or even whether their needs are similar or different from that of male employees. The question is: How do organizations ensure that they are indeed offering women the same things as they are offering men?”

Speaking to some of the top female talent in Pakistan’s corporate world, here are a few factors that came to light:

My Work Arrangements Should Be Flexible:

Flexibility is about an employee and employer making changes to when, where and how a person will work better to meet individual and business needs. Being in charge of work arrangements is something that greatly appeals to women. When balancing their personal and professional lives, women tend to favor having flexible options on how to manage their time.

According to an article I read in the economic times, written by Saundarya Rajesh, “Being able to allot some time to home-related activities even during the regular working hours, is the biggest ask from the side of the woman manager. Multiple flavors of flexible working abound – part-timing, flexi-timing, job-sharing, job-splitting, staggered work hours.”

My Work Should Be Meaningful:

In today’s world women are studying, pursuing their careers, raising children, running households and taking care of their spouses. It’s important for working women to feel and to know that what they do is meaningful. A female employee needs to feel that her time away from home and family is something that will yield her extravagant results in the future and is not going to waste. She also needs to feel that the organization depends on her and that she is valuable resource.

My Appraisal Should Be Fair:

One of the most important factors in understanding the right way to attain and retain female talent, is to understand that women don’t like to be discriminated against. The principal thought is “I am a woman, but don’t you dare hold that against me.” It’s important to note that every female in the corporate world wants to know that they are taken seriously and the playing field is leveled. A future pay raise, promotion, transfer, etc… should not be held back because the employer feels that being a woman, the employee needs to be tried and tested more.

“Never make the cardinal mistake of paying a woman less than her male counterpart.” According to Romana Khokar, Director at Engage Consulting, it is very important for a woman’s work to be appreciated by her family, colleagues should recognize the contributions and the organization should aim at consciously remove glass ceiling which prevent career progression.

Anushey Matri
(Marketing Manager, Engage Consulting)

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Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen

Ritz_Shenzhen_00040_920x518Last week I had the pleasure of staying a couple of nights at The Ritz-Carlton in Shenzhen, China. It was a fantastic experience, made memorable by the tremendous service of The Ritz-Carlton team. Here are just two examples from my stay, which made me think, “Now That Is Great Service”

  • Heading to my room, I shared the elevator with a Ritz Carlton employee who was holding a picture frame. I was curious and asked him what the picture was for. He shared with me that the person in the picture, blowing out candles, had celebrated his birthday in the hotel and that the hotel had framed the picture and was putting it in his room as a gift! Now That Is Great Service!
  • During breakfast I was standing at the bread counter waiting for my toast when a waitress, who I had not seen (the restaurant was massive,) approached me and suggested that she would bring the toast to my table when it was ready. Before I could even explain where I was sitting, she said to me, “Sir, I know your table is there” and pointed towards my empty seat…Now That Is Great Service!

I am, as Ken Blanchard puts it, a Raving Ritz Carlton fan. Their motto is ‘Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” and their secret is in the way they have instilled their values in the behavior of each and every employee and have adjusted their processes allowing employees to live their values, which they call the ‘basics’. For example to facilitate

  • Basic #8: Any employee who receives a customer complaint “owns” the complaint.
  • Basic #9: Instant guest pacification will be ensured by all. React quickly to correct the problem immediately. Do everything you possibly can to never lose a guest.

Each and every employee is given the authority to spend USD 2,000 to resolve a customer complaint on the spot. So it’s not only doing the talk it is also about empowering your people to act in the same way.

For me, The Ritz Carlton is a living example of what HR Guru Dave Ulrich calls “Building a Culture from the Outside In“. In his article, Dave states that “Traditional views of organizational culture have one thing in common, they define culture from the inside-out; who we are, what we do, and how we do it. In a world of speed and change, organizations build winning cultures when their culture efforts begin with customers, then shifts to employee behaviors and organizational process”

Often, Company Values are the ‘poster boys’ of the corporate world. If you really want them to impact your bottom line then (1) define your values on how customers want you to behave, (2) role model, train and communicate the values and their importance and 3) adjust your processes to support and reward your employees to live your values.

– Paul Keijzer

Why Don’t I Praise People Enough?

trophyI had a funny realization recently. I have no problem heaping praise on my two-year-old son – every time he utters a new word, finishes his food or kicks the ball I am clapping, cheering and hugging him till he tells me in this funny two-year-old voice; ‘stop it papa’. So if I do it so eagerly for my son, why do I have such a problem doing the same for my team members? Is it that I don’t want to overdo it, or don’t want to look insincere? Is it that I want to hold out praise for special occasions or for specific mammoth achievements? Is it because I don’t see the things that go right and only focus on the things that go wrong?

Unfortunately, I am not alone. From our ‘Best Place to Work’ Studies we know that employees feeling recognized for what they do is a constant underachiever. In our 2012 editions of the BPTW survey, only half of the respondents agreed that ‘they had received praise in the last 7 days’, making “recognition” in the bottom 20% of all 40 engagement factors.

From our research and that of many other publications, one thing is clear; employees want to be praised more. I recently read Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler. A great book, not only for the suggestions on how to confront people in a way that they deliver on commitments, but also as it had a great section on ‘When Things Go Right’. From their book and from my own experience here are 4 ‘counter-intuitive’ suggestions to heap sincere praise on your team:

1. Praise Small Things
As employees, we expect to be honored and praised for exceptional achievements. We also expect comparable exceptional rewards. As a result, only recognizing breakthrough achievements, does not do anything to quench our appetite for praise. Focus instead on the small things with small momentos. For example, write a hand written Thank You note for a person handling a difficult customer call particularly well, staying out late even if they have parenting obligations, a person supporting an initiative quietly, or for solving a small problem that has been nagging the department for some time.

2. Praise Individuals in Private and Groups in Public
People love to bask in the admiration of their colleagues and friends. However, more often than not employees who attend the ‘annual company award ceremony’ leave the event questioning why others were selected and not them. I am aware of the arguments that indicate that by highlighting individual performance in a group setting gives employees an example / role model to emulate. This works when the achievement is something that sticks out as remarkable work practice. For all other instances, it is better to praise the individuals in private and teams in public.

3. Focus on more on Process and Less on Results
Being a believer in doing the ‘right things right will deliver you the results’ – I would focus my praise more on people doing the right things rather then the actual results. The potential side effect of just focusing on results might blow up in your face with people taking short cuts or by taking a Machiavellian approach. The positive side effect of focusing on process is that you can heap praise each and every team member, as everybody contributes in a small or large way. You don’t have to wait for the results and can do it as often as you want.

4. You Can’t Praise Enough
Praising people is similar to communicating a message. You can’t do it enough. So start praising more than you think you possibly can and then double it. I know your natural reaction will be that you don’t want to go overboard. But as long as you are sincere in your praise I don’t think that anybody can set a limit. Put yourself in the receivers shoes, when was the last time you told your boss to stop recognizing you for your work?

Team members feeling appreciated adds tremendously to their engagement level and in return to their commitment and output. So that should be reason enough for you to double your efforts. However it has also additional side effects. Sincere praise given also enhances your ‘respect-reserves’ something you can draw on when it is time to talk about the tough stuff.

Although I can’t remember the source, I remember reading somewhere that you need to praise an individual 7 times before they take your feedback seriously. (By the way for spouses this is 14 times, so gentleman before you ask your wife about that credit card statement make sure you have praised her 14 times about all kind of other things!)

Go on start writing these Thank You notes!

– Paul Keijzer

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Your To Don’t List For 2013: How Not To Engage Talent

Work_New_Year_ResolutionsThe beginning of the year is always about ones New Years resolutions and what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Recently I read an article in the New York Times that suggested; instead of making your “To Do” list, make a “To Don’t” list. I thought that was a brilliant idea, as you will be taking into account the things you should NOT do!

So, if one of your resolutions is to fast track your best talent this year, here is a list of things Not To Do:

1. Think Small
Your department has to deliver operational results. You want to make sure you use your best player to deliver your department results, right? … Wrong! Use your best talent for delivering results that will blow your boss away. Don’t waste their abilities to deliver daily / operational tasks. Let them run. Give them challenges and make sure they constantly run in 5th gear.

2. Be Murky
Not being clear of what you expect of someone is the number one performance killer. How can people perform if they don’t know what is expected of them? Setting clear performance expectations is significantly more difficult as it sounds, as it requires you to analyze, articulate and simplify into a clear objective. Answer the following questions: What will WOW you? Will your team achieve their goals/targets by the end of the year? What would success in this project / task look like?

3. Sit On Their Head
Talent is talent because you know they have got the capability to get things done. Maybe they don’t have the experience or knowledge yet, but they are imaginative enough to figure it out or find the information they need in order to get things done. The worst thing you can do is to hold them on a tight leash. Give them the resources they need and trust them to do the rest.

4. Keep Them In The Dark
People that have talent are not only aware of the fact, but also know their market value. The best thing you can do is to acknowledge this and help your talent discover how they can achieve their potential and maximize their growth. The moment that you start hiding opportunities (inside or outside the company) you will lose their trust. Treat people with respect and help them think through the career and learning options they have. If you put yourself in their perspective and help them reach their potential, you will not only gain their trust, but maybe even their loyalty.

5. Hide Them
Talent learns from doing big things, making mistakes and a guiding hand who can help them sweat the small stuff. Above all they learn from exposure; learning from people that are better than them and being exposed to meetings, interactions, presentations, discussions that are far above their pay grade. Talent wants to meet other talent. They want to measure themselves up with others and want to network with other top performers. Not only will your talent benefit from this exposure, but the organization will benefit as well, as learning spreads around quickly. Even more importantly, you will benefit from exposing your best talent and your bosses will recognize you for the talent developer that you are.

I wish you an amazing new year and if there is one resolution for 2013 that will benefit you professionally the most it is to develop your talent. It will help them, help your company and above all help you!

– Paul Keijzer