Viewing posts categorised under: Team Building

Driving Business Results through Employee Engagement

All Blog Posts, Business, Coaching, Motivation, Strategy, Team Building / 08.05.20100 comments

A couple of months ago, I highlighted Daniel Pink’s work on intrinsic motivation in my February 24th blog post entitled “When Traditional Motivation Doesn’t Work”.  I concluded that post with the following tips.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ LEADERSHIP CATALYST TIPS ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

In several turnaround situations, I have found the key to motivating and engaging employees is to:

  • Make them feel valued as people and that they belong
  • Help them see how what they do makes a difference, and
  • Find a way for them to monitor their own contributions on an ongoing basis.


Employee Engagement

I recently stumbled upon a research study which validates these principles, shows how employee engagement and customer loyalty drive financial results, and illustrates how to execute these principles in a grocery store environment.  The study was sponsored by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council and is entitled “Getting to Great:  Mapping Management Practices that Drive Great Store Performance”.

The article is about 30 pages long, but well worth the time, even if you aren’t in the grocery business.  Historically, the key to success in store operations has been seen as execution, and “command and control” has been a dominant leadership approach.  Seeing how the above principles of employee engagement work in this situation should increase our confidence that they will work in situations involving more ambiguous and complex challenges. Below is a quick recap of their findings.

First, how do we know a great performer when we see one?

  1. “Great performers are those that overachieve relative to their market potential, not just those with the highest financial results.”  Store results are a function not only of the leader’s performance, they are tremendously impacted by the store’s location, customer potential, competitive intensity, and store specific factors.  The researchers devised a clever way of controlling for these external factors to show which store managers are executing most effectively against the strategic hand they have been dealt.  (pp. 4-6)
  2. “Great Performers generate intense customer loyalty”.
  3. “Great performers produce strong employee loyalty and commitment.”

Second, what are the key management practices that great performers use to get these results?

  1. “Get clarity and commitment to goals.  The great performers focused on the one or two most vital goals for improving their store’s performance and put their full focus behind them.  By contrast, the more goals there were, the fewer were achieved with excellence.
  2. Get everyone to focus on the key drivers.  Enlist each team member daily to take actions that have the greatest impact on achieving the main goals.
  3. Implement simple mechanisms to propel goal achievement.  Post visible, compelling scorecards in accessible workplace locations.
  4. Establish a constant cadence of engagement and accountability around the key measures and goals.”

While this is a good recap, go to the report for the specifics of how to measure great performance results and the specific leadership behaviors that lead to it.  It is sure to be a catalyst for ideas on how to do the same in your business!


Algebraic Proof that Tubby Smith’s Gophers became the Best Team in the Country after working with a Leadership Catalyst!

All Blog Posts, Change, Coaching, Motivation, Team Building / 02.04.20100 comments

Tubby Smith

On March 1st, I posted a blog about Tubby Smith bringing in a Leadership Catalyst (sports psychologist) after winning only 3 of 10 Big Ten games.  On the eve of the final four, it’s time to assess whether the team really improved after that. 

The gophers showed dramatic improvement, winning 7 of their last 10 conference games.  They ended up beating every Big Ten team making the NCAA tournament, including impressive wins in the Big Ten Tournament against #11 MSU and #6 Purdue, which won the gophers their own invitation to the “Big Dance”.  They were the only team in the nation to beat two of the Final Four teams (Butler and MSU) and beat teams that beat Duke (Wisconsin) and beat West Virginia (Purdue).  According to the Algebraic Transitive Property of Inequalities (see proof below), that makes the Gophers the best team in the nation.  

There you have it – mathematical (and tongue in cheek) proof that the Gophers are #1.

Congratulations Tubby, on your 17th consecutive 20 win season (21W – 14L)!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ LEADERSHIP CATALYST TIPS ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

According to the Transitive Property of Inequalities,

If a < b and b < c, then a < c


If a > b and b > c, then a > c 

If Minnesota > Wisconsin and Wisconsin > Duke, then Minnesota > Duke 

If Minnesota > Purdue, and Purdue > West Virginia, then Minnesota > West Virginia 

Minnesota > Butler 

Minnesota > Michigan State 


Minnesota > All Final Four Teams 



Tubby Smith, U of MN BB Coach, Hires Catalyst

All Blog Posts, Change, Coaching, Motivation, Team Building / 01.03.20100 comments

 Tubby Smith, the University of Minnesota men’s basketball coach has 16 consecutive 20 win seasons for a reason.  He is a great coach, and he recognizes when it is time to find a catalyst to help unlock the potential of his team.  This year’s 17-11 team is likely not performing up to its true potential because 7 of their 11 losses were decided by less than 5 points.  They have had major leads over ranked teams such as Michigan State and Purdue, only to see them erased in the final seconds.  In fact, they have only won 4 of 11 close games this season.

In an effort to find a remedy to the mental breakdowns his team was having with the game on the line, coach Smith brought in a sports psychologist according to Myron Medcalf of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Players report that he taught them to use “positive affirmations” and envision good outcomes in tough stretches.  They further claim that the approach helped them survive a late game surge by the fighting Illini in a 62-60 victory on Saturday.  

For many, “positive affirmation” conjures up images of  SNL’s Stuart Smally (aka Senator Al Franken) looking into the mirror and saying “…and darn it, people like me”.  However, there is a lot more science to them than that,  and no doubt you have recently observed Olympians mentally rehearsing flawless performances on the slopes and on the ice before they compete.   This same technique works in coaching executives before  tough board meetings or  critical or contentious negotiations.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ LEADERSHIP CATALYST TIPS ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

To increase the odds of success for executives in these critical situations, help them:

  • Imagine themselves in the situation
  • Anticipate the tough questions and challenges they likely will encounter
  • Visualize themselves calmly and effectively responding to those challenges
  • Practice responding to those challenges with someone playing an adversarial role.


The bottom line is that effective coaches and business leaders recognize when their teams are not performing up to potential, and do not hesitate to find a catalyst to help them get back on track.


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