We were playing a gig in a pub on the Malahide Road. There were 8 musicians, a range of instruments and an eclectic play list – blues, rock, jazz, and pop. In my case, it’s not so much musical expertise as ‘hard neck’. One woman commented rhetorically: “Is there any beginning to this man’s talent?” Now, while the band are generally happy, it can be hard for punters to ‘break into’ these sessions. The musicians sit in a circle and get into a groove i.e. play for themselves rather than the audience, which can be insular and self-indulgent.
Italian Night: On that particular night there was a big group of Italians – mixed age group – in the pub. It was hard to decipher the connections within the group. I don’t think they were students and they didn’t seem like tourists. With Irish groups, the evening normally starts off quietly. The crowd ignore you and chat away. By the end of the night, fuelled by 9 Bacardi’s or pints of Heineken they are up dancing and asking for Rock the Kasbah. Your best song is crap at 8 pm and your worst song is brilliant at midnight! Kick off with Satisfaction (Rolling Stones) and you’d be committed to a mental institution; bang it out at closing time and become a hero! The Italian group were drinking very little alcohol; couple of beers, some wine, tons of H20. Watching and listening intently.
Pick Up: One of the guys seemed to be particularly interested. Brian, our lead guitarist, is a terrific player and the Italian guy was clued into what he was doing. On the way back from the bar, I asked if he would sing a song. At first he seemed a little shy; 2 minutes later he was into it and the group became animated. He wasn’t bad at all, not exactly Pavarotti, but better than any of us (the bar height is low). At least he stayed in the same key for the entire song.
That’s Empowerment: The next morning, when that guy thought about the night before, I’m guessing that he focused on his own performance. He wasn’t concerned about what we’d played, but how he had come across. Engagement is not some vague psychological notion and it’s certainly not telling people what you are going to do. It’s getting staff directly involved in the running of an organisation. Working on important projects. Being asked to perform their own song and getting acknowledged for this. Simple, isn’t it?
Measuring Engagement: Now this is where it gets smart. According to Karl O’ Connor in Ulster Bank, staff engagement occurs along 3 dimensions. Where you engage staff this leads to job satisfaction and increases commitment. The link is a follows: People say positive things about the organization. They stay with the organisation. And they strive to perform. How can you prove this? By measuring it. There are a number of lead indicators (high productivity, customer satisfaction, lower absence rates and labour turnover), which help to track progress. During the recession most organisations have actually stopped measuring this stuff, concerned that feedback from staff will be negative. It’s the equivalent of throwing out your bathroom scales in an effort to lose weight!
Q: Who knows the business best? A: It’s simple. The people who work there. Get your people involved in solving organisation problems and watch that needle jump forward. Yogi Berra said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. But there’s one thing that we can predict with some certainty. In a future typhoon of competition, you will need to engage every ounce of your people’s talent. Here’s the clarion call to all managers: move to the side. Let staff onto the stage alongside you and their ‘voice’ shine through. Why? Because they will remember their own song long after your solo efforts have been forgotten.
PS: Lighter Note: Don’t you just love stupid jokes like the following? ‘I start a new job in Seoul next week. I thought it was a good ‘Korea’ move! Ok, Ok, a bit lame. Try this one….
WHY MEN ARE SELDOM DEPRESSED: This week we continue our well grounded research on whether men are just happier people? Well, what do you expect from such simple creatures? The research has put forward some possible explanations…
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
You can never be pregnant.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
You never have to drive to another petrol station restroom because this one is ‘icky’.
You don’t have to stop and think about which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress €5000. Tux rental €125.
People never stare at your chest when you’re talking to them.
New shoes don’t cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
All phone conversations over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You open all your own jars.
Extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, they can still be your friend.
Underwear is only €8.95 for a three-pack.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
Play with toys all your life.
You wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can Christmas shop for 23 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
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