Mind Reading for Managers


Did you know that only about one-in-five employees bring their A-game to work every day? As a result, countless companies dedicate a sizeable budget to solving employee engagement issues. In reality, most performance and behavioral problems can be solved through conversation.

Find out what employees really want and what they need to be fully engaged and productive at work by conducting the following five conversations with your team.

1. Feedback

Two types of feedback fall under this conversation: Praise and input. A vast majority of employees do not feel appreciated. Praise, it seems, is a scarce commodity. If your team is doing well, be sure to let them know.

Conversely, one of the key factors in employee engagement is the ability to inspire ideas. Be receptive to feedback from team members. They may just come up with an incredible idea that makes a huge difference for the business.

2. Objectives

Most performance issues stem from a disconnect between what the manager and the employee perceive as meeting objectives. To drastically reduce performance issues, clearly define expectations for success and articulate the way in which progress will be measured.

3. Career development

Many studies list career development within the top three factors that employees gauge to determine whether to stay with their current employer. Yet, many managers avoid this topic like the plague, because:

  • They don’t understand how to manage their own careers;
  • They are afraid they will be surpassed on the corporate ladder; and
  • They don’t feel they can meet employees’ expectations for vertical movement.

Helping the team manage their careers ensures they understand what opportunities exist within the company, which will inhibit them from looking elsewhere.

Find out what your employees’ priorities are and have open, honest conversations about how you can help achieve them—even with any constraints you may have. Suggest and recommend internal opportunities to learn, grow and develop.

4. Underlying motivators

Science has shown intrinsic factors to be much more highly motivating than extrinsic ones, such as pay and benefits. Identify the drivers of each individual team member to unlock productivity and unleash potential. Then recognize them appropriately when they do go that extra mile.

5. Strengths

According to the Gallup Organization, teams whose members play to their strengths are:

  • 50% more likely to have low employee turnover;
  • 38% more likely to be highly productive; and
  • 44% more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores.

Strengths can be defined as the innate abilities or behavioral patterns that are neurologically hard-wired into the brain. The context of the behavior will change over time, but the patterns remain the same. Those children who share their toys in the sand box at the age of five may be more likely collaborate in the workplace at 35.

Strength-identification requires a very minor time commitment: as little as two-hours per week. If you can help team members determine behaviors that come naturally to them, you will find that their stress is decreased and they become more engaged and productive.

By simply tapping into the minds of your personnel, you can significantly increase employee engagement. With these five focused conversations, you will be able to communicate with your staff frequently and effectively—about the things that really matter to each of them.

Si Author K Smith M

Kim Seeling Smith is an international human resources expert and author of Mind Reading for Managers: 5 FOCUSed Conversations for Greater Employee Engagement and Productivity (IgniteGlobal, 2014). For more information, please visit www.igniteglobal.com.


More in Staff