Engaging Everyone's Head and Heart

July 10, 2013
# min read
Paradigm Associates LLC

The "QualityRevolution" of the past 30-40 years has clearly demonstrated that ignoring the direct input of people actually doing the work is often dangerous and can lead to failure. W. Edwards Deming, often seen as the father of contemporary quality management noted that "We must learn to enlist people's 'Heads and Hearts' as integral parts of the work process, not just their 'Hands' as extensions of technology and technique." Today's best managers are leaders focused on bringing out the best thinking and commitment of all employees in order to develop and sustain the most effective work processes, and the highest quality products and services. Understanding how to engage and empower employees at all levels can often be the difference between average performance and high performance.

Employee Engagement, Employee Involvement, Participatory Management, Cross-Functional Improvement Teams and other descriptors refer to ways in which managers and employees at all levels of organizations can bring their 'Heads and Hearts' to their jobs every day. It is the way that management includes the thinking and commitment of all employees to resolve organizational problems and develop improvements to key processes, products and services.

Employee engagement is the opposite of the more traditional way of organizational decision making and taking action that simply had total decision making power in the hands of a few. Everyone else was expected to implement decisions made only by supervisors, managers and specialist/experts.

Contemporary evidence is overwhelming that the best managed and most successful organizations are proactively engaging their employees in ways that reflect a conscious commitment to the notion that all employees can make a significant contribution when properly engaged and empowered. Understanding how to engage employees at all levels can often be the difference between average performance and high performance.

The challenge facing strong managers is that they sometimes let their personal control needs and feelings bubble up to the surface. This makes it difficult for them to genuinely trust others to properly manage key work processes. This can impact performance in negative ways.This often results in employees that don't care or think about how they could better contribute to the effectiveness of key processes and the quality of products or services.

Excellent and effective managers make sure that people do things right and as excellent leaders they make sure that everyone does the right things. The first responsibility of an effective manger can actually be to manage themselves thoughtfully rather than emotionally in order to lead others in ways that get the best results.

Role Functions of EffectiveLeaders 

·     Provide leadership,vision, direction, strategy, goals and set work parameters 

·     Ensure that people have the knowledge, skills, resources, information and support they need 

·     Promote continuous learning and improvement 

·     Help people develop and maintain effective work relationships and communication 

·     Be the best student,coach and role model 

·     Ensure that everyone makes decisions based on proper facts and data 

·     Empower people to control their responsibilities 

Managing Self to Lead Others

Managing one's self is about managing personal feeling, personal attitudes, personality preferences and personal behaviors to bring out the best in one's self and others vs the worst. This is not to say that a manager assumes a false and manipulative personality or behaviors. Clearly a quarterback on a given football play may have negative feelings about another player but still must throw that person the ball at times to win the game. On days when a manager has a personal problem outside of work, he/she does not allow related feelings get in the way of how they can best lead their employees.

Managing Self, Leading Others to be most effective means managers need to be: 

·     Competent in his/herjob 

·     Committed to the organization and its people 

·     Trustworthy, reliable and honest 

·     Fair 

·     Respectful to everyone, every time 

·     Avoiding undermanaging and over managing 

·     In control of one's behavior and not letting personal feelings dominate actions 

·     Trusting others to be responsible and intelligent 

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