ShareThis Page
Chris Posti

Inspire workers by disregarding conventions

Chris Posti
| Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, 9:00 a.m.

If you manage people, you know it can be challenging to get some to do more than “just the basics” of their job.

One of the tools you may use to encourage your employees to extend themselves is the annual performance appraisal — but that's a document that is often forgotten about before it's put to rest in the personnel file. Or maybe you subscribe to “MBWA” — management by walking around — a wonderful concept in theory, but in reality, you have plenty to do at your own desk. Or maybe you profess to have an open door policy, unfairly encouraging employees to think they can catch you for a 10-second conversation between phone calls and meetings.

Such methods are well-intentioned, but let's be honest, they are not well executed.

So, if you really want to jolt your employees into a higher level of performance, exactly what can you do to get results? How can you help your staff be more creative, more productive and more proactive? Consider what others have effectively done:

A small manufacturing firm was anticipating a spike in business just as it lost a key employee who left to raise her family. Instead of simply replacing the employee, the company divvied up her job responsibilities according to who was suited to the tasks. They each got a boost in pay and were encouraged to demonstrate their ability to assume even more responsibilities. This engendered lots of initiative, increased productivity and positioned better performers for their next promotion.

A busy engineering firm that needed to refurbish its offices took the opportunity to set up a radically redesigned workspace, with a focus on collaboration. The result was that some employees did not like the new layout and soon left the company, but those who stayed bought into a collaborative style of working, with an outcome of greater teamwork, higher productivity and far fewer mistakes.

A global manufacturing company hired Marlene Boas, a Peters Township-based coach and consultant to integrate a drum circle into their research and design team's annual conference. After the first day of presentations, the 35 wearied workers unsuspectingly entered a room strewn with colorful drums and chairs arranged in large circle. The group was apprehensive at first, but as the drumming caught on, they became engaged and reinvigorated. The manager, who had taken the risk of incorporating the drumming, observed in particular how one of his most promising employees was transformed during the drumming. This employee had always been reluctant to contribute in meetings, but in the drum circle he was unrestrained and participated fully.

Says Boas, “The behaviors exhibited in drumming do carry over to the workplace afterwards. Drumming is nonverbal, so people also listen more carefully and learn to communicate in a new and fun way. They quickly become synchronized to a dominant rhythm, which allows the unique pulse of the group to emerge, and they experience a rare vibrancy as they fall into their ‘groove.' ” She says group drumming sparks creativity because it synchronizes the two hemispheres of the brain, something no performance appraisal or MBWA talk will ever do.

Taking a nontraditional step demonstrates willingness to explore and encourage novel ideas to foster a collaborative, proactive working environment. That's a whole lot more than “just the basics” and possibly just the jolt everyone needs.

Chris Posti is president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me