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Raise Productivity in 2016 Using Team-Based Employee Engagement

We can all fit on this ladder if we work together.

We can all fit on this ladder if we work together.

A long time ago in a job far away, a boss I had always made the point that “your job is to make me look good!” She actually meant this in the best possible way. It was shorthand for “if we achieve great things, we will get the right kind of attention from superiors and accelerate our moves up the ladder.” Some of the ways she defined “making her look good” were:

  • Get our assigned tasks done. Innovate around those assignments to improve departmental productivity.
  • Anticipate and eliminate mistakes.
  • Correct mistakes effectively, and as quickly as is possible.
  • Work well with other departments to build a collaborative reputation (“pay it forward” in today’s parlance.)
  • Act professionally at all times, to create a positive work environment and also build that positive reputation with other groups (and potential new bosses!)

Do your middle managers view their roles this way? Do they strive to use such standards as models for their internal and external behavior? Are their minds set on keeping their energy forward-thinking and action-oriented? Do they pass these engaging leadership behaviors and mindsets on to their own subordinates and peers?

This is a critical success factor for all organizations large enough to have middle management layers: Fully engage all middle managers in the organizational mission, and encourage the collaborative behaviors that grow out of that engagement to raise productivity. Fully engaged middle managers are also more likely to align their team’s energy with the organizational mission to improve process outcomes.

“Companies focused on leadership and creating organization change often overlook the fact that true organizational change comes not from senior leadership but rather from the company’s corps of middle managers. (D)eep and meaningful change — the kind that affects a company’s bottom line over time — must start in the middle, supported by the managers who translate the CEO’s vision into day-to-day practices.”

~Meghan Biro, writing in TalentCulture

We have also written about the critical role of middle-management engagement on LinkedIn, and the Two-Way Nature of employee engagement.

My long-ago boss didn’t get everything right in trying to improve our performance. She backslid as much as we did into bad old corporate “survival of the fittest” mentalities, and lost her temper occasionally. But she and we did make progress adopting new more productive mindsets day-by-day.

  • We had permission to challenge negative behavior within the group.
  • We had permission to defend our behavior against a challenge.
  • We outlawed “negative high-energy behavior” such as shouting, or acting without consultation on a critical task.
  • We apologized for any negative high-energy behavior that did slip out.
  • We promised to separate issues from relationships, and spent a good amount of time outside of work “bonding” during social activities.

These collectively did break down barriers to better collaboration. People really did become less defensive about their work, and more open to constructive criticism.

It bears keeping in mind that we bought into these mindsets for entirely selfish reasons: We thought we could improve our chances of promotion if we played off each other’s strengths and masked our weaknesses from competing groups. We were still in the game to win, and had no illusions about corporate life. Other groups were gunning for the same recognition and access to resources!

Most of us did win promotions, some inside the company and others by leaving for attractive opportunities elsewhere. We all like to think that our individual successes had a springboard in the collaborative successes we crafted together.

Contact Bovo-Tighe ButtonMore broadly, this is a great example of a middle manager taking responsibility to engage her team in the mission using a basket of employee engagement tools.
And it worked!

If you need help accelerating the adoption of these sorts of productive mindsets within your teams, let us know. These challenges are what we live for at Bovo-Tighe!


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