Prepare Before It’s Too Late…3

To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…


Post 3: After a discussion about the rocky impacts change can have on employee productivity, James asked his friend, Keith, for some guidance on evaluating the culture needed for his leaders to effectively support their employees through their upcoming challenges.


As promised, I’ve bulleted here a few areas you and your leaders might explore to confirm employee engagement or to identify weak spots in the partnerships between employees and leaders.  These don’t seem like terrible gaps, but they may be indications of opportunities to strengthen alignment.

  • How do supervisors respond to ‘why’ questions from employees?  Executives should always prepare them to confidently answer those appropriately – especially with approaching change.
  • How many complaints does HR have after performance reviews from employees who are not satisfied with their reviews – no employee should be surprised by their review.
  • HR may also be able to tell you how often employees are written up for things they say they didn’t know they were expected to do…. Weak expectations is a gap that has caused me pain in the past.
  • How many leaders can produce documents showing they are talking to their employees about current performance realities: can they give you a copy of current team goals?
    • …or current team measures documented in a language employees understand
    • …or confirmation that they completed the last individual performance reviews with their team
    • …or development plans for at least their more promising employees
  • Interact with leaders in the breakroom if you don’t usually…. What do casual manager conversations revolve around?
    • …around how they have to do all the work for their employees?
    • …around the disciplinary issues they are up against or overwhelmed by?
    • …or are they brainstorming ideas to help their teams or individual employees grow or improve their performance?   This is what you want to hear!
  • Think about reactions of mid-level leaders when they are faced with issues in leader meetings:
    • Do they aggressively bring data to add to issue-resolution / or do they share data to protect themselves?
    • Do they get busy solving the issue and exploring process gaps / or do they get busy building a case to lay blame or protect themselves from it?
    • If these negative habits exist in the leaders BEFORE THE CHANGES – they will really have a tough time trusting and working together after the changes hit.

Good luck – and thanks for picking up the tab at breakfast last week!

After reading the email, James felt more confident that there was alignment between most of the employees and leaders in his company.  And, when he delivered his overview about the NLRB activity to his executives, he also shared Keith’s ideas to remind them that strengthening respectful employee engagement is one of the most effective ways to limit the disruption of productivity during times of doubt.

REALITY: Establishing and monitoring consistent and respectful two-way communication between management and employees can decrease risk and increase organizational strength.  Aligning the entire organization makes it stronger and more flexible; such qualities are critical to successfully navigating through the choppy waters of commercial uncertainty. 


  • Showing gratitude, igniting career engagement, and creating respected accountability for performance are actions that help keep employees open to management perspectives.
  • A culture of education about your industry, customers and operations and how each of those influence company success increases interest in how the business is competing in these areas.
    • Find easy-to-read measures that communicate company progress so everyone knows when to row harder.
    • Engage in casual conversations, and ask your employees non-threatening questions about how they think industry trends may impact the marketplace. When hard change does occur, employees are more likely to see it as an expected result of the market instead of feeling their insecurity as a betrayal of leadership.
  • Every employee should know how their individual work contributes to the success of the small or medium sized business they work in.