Collaboration and Reciprocity MUST BE Rooted

To recap in part one; we introduced the series explaining how employee retention is a significant concern for leaders today. According to the April 2013 results of the survey conducted by Robert Half, the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm, 2,100 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. markets reported (38%) that their top concern for FY2013-14 is to retain top performers and talent as valuable employees to the organization. 27% of respondents said their top focus will be maintaining employee productivity. 13% stated improving staff morale and engagement is important. Another 13% of respondents said recruiting top performers is important. While only a small 9% of respondents were unsure. While this information is important, we chose to focus in on the 38% by pointing out the importance of providing professional development opportunities to the employee base to ensure they remain engaged. We identified a few things that all leaders must do to be successful in this area:

  1. Make sure employees have their FEET on solid ground, pointing North Star and in the right direction.
  2. Make sure their teams are skilled at solving problems/challenges using TIME as a strategic tool for “Different Options” that will impact the Future Picture.
  3. Make sure their behaviors/actions speak louder than their voice to build confidence for everyone to understand what it takes to WiN in Fast Time: think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly.

Parts two and three unpacked the concepts of FEET and TIME, but here in part four, we're going to close the series by introducing and explaining the new rules for employee retention and engagement that somehow continues to elude even the best leaders across business and industry today.

Collaboration and Reciprocity MUST BE Rooted in Employee Engagement to Ensure Employee Retention

These rules are the main reasons why organizations are able to develop new HABITS to CREATE cultures of effective change. They are used to inspire real change that matters and that sticks and when they are rooted throughout an organization or system, leaders will receive the engagement they deserve. These new rules are “collaboration” and “reciprocity.” These two are the main reasons why organizations as a whole are able to WiN in Fast Time: think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly.

To WiN in Fast Time, everyone must work towards a single vision, aligning that vision with the Future Picture, pushing the same amount of energy in the same direction and for the same cause. The only way that this can occur is to build a culture where everyone is collaborating using reciprocity as a catalyst to think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly.

Collaboration is the behavioral habit that facilitates a significant blueprint to stimulate progress for individuals and teams. It provide leaders insight into the study of cognitive intelligence; the intellectual ability to reason with logic by analyzing and prioritizing the behaviors of others that will impact the future. When collaboration becomes the blueprint as a guide and common sense as the approach, employees are able to be more effective in educating one another how to awaken their realized potential for lasting fulfillment. But, in order to realize this potential, strategies are still needed to be successful and collaboration is the ultimate Leadership Challenge (authors J. Kouzes and Barry Posner) that models the way, inspires a shared vision, challenges the process, enables others to act and encourages hearts to want to Better their Best. These are the results when leaders and their organizations are able to perform collaboration effectively with poise and tact. When leaders do what is necessary to protect the integrity of the leadership challenge placed on their employees, collaboration will guide leadership for strategic execution to make extraordinary things happen.

Reciprocity on the other hand is another behavioral habit; however, this habit reflects a broader and deeper capability for employees. In 1945, the 32nd President of the United States was quoted as saying, “today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships.” Here we are in the 21st century and we are still faced with this very same fact. The behavioral habit of reciprocity allows employees to be able to comprehend their surroundings: “making sense” of things or “figuring out” what to do in a given situation. It increases the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions.

Reciprocity ultimately drives leadership for strategic execution competencies to greater heights, while improving social awareness to ensure people understand their abilities to react to their own and others' emotions. In other words, people respond socially to a positive response with another positive action. In the end, reciprocity (when combined with collaboration) improves relationships by inspiring, influencing and developing reasons to Better your Best by valuing honesty, integrity and ethical conduct when dealing with changing circumstances in life and in the workplace. Reciprocity improves relationships and when under the right conditions, it ensures that employees think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly to achieve successful outcomes.

Reciprocity combined with collaboration is how organizations survive and thrive into the future. If leaders learn to use collaboration and reciprocity and manage them well as a new set of rules, they increase their own potential to become extraordinarily proficient in keeping their employees highly engaged. The two are used to CREATE successful organizations led by dynamic employees and truly gifted leaders. Together, employees and leaders collaborate and reciprocate to:

  • Clarify values…
  • Reinforce vision…
  • Empower behaviors to change HABITS…
  • Align conversations up, down and across (throughout) the organization…
  • Target effort on high impact areas and they…
  • Emphasize success to reward change that sticks!

There is no other set of rules that will allow leaders and organizations to be more success in this new world order we have come to know in 2013 and beyond. Rodd Wagner, a New York Times bestselling author and one of the leading experts in the field says that employee engagement is a “boomerang effect,” meaning what a leader puts out, they will ultimately get back in return whereas the organization will also be reflective of the energy being slung. I agree with Mr. Wagner, but I'll take it a step further.

When leaders are leading and communicating effectively to make sure their employees have their FEET on solid ground, pointing North Star and in the right direction, and everyone is using TIME as a strategic tool to develop different options to make better decisions, the boomerang effect will continue to sling-shot itself in a non-stop motion to CREATE extraordinary success.

  • FEET (behaviors) will remain Flawless, Effective, Targeted and Timely.
  • TIME (decisions) will continue to be used to Target the right energy, Identify the efforts for good growth, Minimize unnecessary behaviors that cause poor habits, and Execute strategic initiatives for employees to integrate welcomed innovation into the organization.
  • FEET and TIME (organizational behavior) will combine to cause a collaborative environment to reciprocate in order for the organization to continue working and using the new rules to improve outcomes and WiN in Fast Time: think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly.

These are the keys to driving successful organizations to do what is necessary to retain and engage employees in a way that allows them to remain engaged and onboard. Essentially, this means that leaders must establish an effective employee engagement and retention process. This means that they must do what is necessary to wake-up their employees with a well designed innovative process that is much different from the norm. Norms are outdated and boring, and they become stagnant forcing employees to begin looking elsewhere for new and exciting challenges. Collaboration and Reciprocity are the only challenges – the leadership challenges – any leader needs to achieve their Future Picture.

Well, there's nothing innovative about introducing a new rule that promotes collaboration and reciprocity. Where the process gets innovative is in the delivery of the rule using the concepts of FEET and TIME to WiN in Fast Time: get everyone to think strategically, focus sharply and move quickly. This takes finesse and for leaders to be able to finish with finesse, they must be able to collaborate and reciprocate, while making sure the two are deeply rooted throughout the organization. What's important to understand is if leaders are not able to perform these two actions on a daily basis, collaboration and reciprocity, success will continue to elude them now and into the future. At the speed of change in the digital age, this will be disastrous. Instead of experiencing the “boomerang effect,” leaders will be prone to the “revolving door effect.”

Employee retention and engagement is a contact sport. Without the new rule in business under proper management – Collaboration and Reciprocity – you have no contact. With no contact, you have no chance of winning! Choose wisely; your decisions carry with them significant implications on the organization and on your greatest asset – your employees.

Your decisions must be responsive to the challenges facing your employees. If successful, the result will be not only a greater sense of commitment on the part of the organization to its employees, but also a greater sense of loyalty among employees to the organization.

Watch for our next series where I'll tackle a common misstep leaders make when they mistake strategy for execution. When leaders substitute vision, mission, purpose, planning, or the Future Picture (much different from the Future) for the real work of strategy and strategic execution, they send their firms adrift. This common mistake occurs more often then you might think (you may also be making this mistake without knowing) and when it does, the organization is sent in limbo having lost its way without having a direction back to a safe harbor.

So I hope to see you in our next series, "How Leaders Mistake Execution for Strategy (and Why That Damages Both).

Ebook Download
View all
View all