How to manage the experience of employees in the organization?

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How to manage the experience of employees in the organization?

The book «The Discipline of Service» points out that in order to effectively manage the employees’ experience several factors must be taken into account, such as the suitability of employees, their adequate training and development, the application of clear and coherent organizational policies and procedures, the allocation of resources and technological tools, and also the orientation and style of the middle managers that are in charge of the employees[1]. Here we will focus on this last factor, that is, the impact that middle managers cause when managing the experience for their subordinates. Undoubtedly, these managers become a determining factor for the generation of positive experiences in each team working in the company. Therefore, the question to be asked is: how the middle managers should manage the experience of their collaborators in order to achieve their satisfaction, development, and commitment?

The search for satisfaction, development and commitment of employees through their experiences in the company is fundamental in the role of middle managers, as this triggers a series of positive effects for all involved. The role of these managers has two key elements to consider when managing experiences for their subordinates: motivations of intrinsic type and motivations of transcendent type[2]. Intrinsic motivation facilitates job satisfaction and professional development for subordinates, while transcendent motivation favors commitment and personal development to assume the mission according to the values that the organization promotes. If the experiences that managers create for their subordinates sustain their satisfaction and consolidate their commitment, they are contributing to these collaborators feel pleased and identified with their work team and the company. In this way employees are willing to generate constant value for customers. Then, the organization can achieve the results that its stakeholders expect, not only of economical value, but also of social and ethical value. It is more frequent to observe the promotion of intrinsic motivation for employees, through the style and behavior of those who guide them. In this sense, the application of some organizational policies and practices is also frequently observed. On the other hand, it is less common to observe an inspiring approach based on transcendent motivation that is applied by those who lead at the middle level of the organization. This reality has been corroborated in a study conducted through surveys applied to more than 600 middle managers participating in our training and development executive programs between 2010 and 2016. This lack of focus on transcendent motivation significantly reduces the commitment and development of the collaborators within a work team. And this happens because employees lack a cause of greater significance to do their best. In other words, they make their efforts fundamentally for their own satisfaction, because they fail to understand a deep reason for working in a particular organization. The transcendent orientation allows middle managers to project an attitude of service that favors the identification with a mission in three aspects: the organizational mission, the mission of the work team, and the personal mission. Undoubtedly, these managers first must have sufficient satisfaction in their job, a solid commitment, and a permanent development to be able to manage positive experiences for their subordinates. We have discussed this extensively in the book «Leaders of Service»[3].

A relevant factor to be considered when middle managers are applying intrinsic motivation to generate interesting experiences for employees is the creation and strengthening of the organizational climate. This task is crucial and should be aimed to enrich subordinates through specific challenges and attractive assignments within a positive collaborative work environment. As we have pointed out in previous articles, organizational climate has two relevant aspects: one that is focused on creating an internal environment of wellbeing and another that tries to guide people towards concrete results through specific processes. For this, middle managers play a key role, and their attention must be paid in the orientation of the talent of each employee, and thus promote their satisfaction and development. The clear goal that each middle manager should obtain is to maintain efficient subordinates, satisfied and committed. As Heskett, Schlesinger and Sasser say, when companies keep satisfied, productive and loyal employees, it is viable to create value for customers[4]. And this means that employees live useful and enriching experiences, not precisely because of salary or incentive policies and professional development, but because of the type of environment that the boss fosters and the example and treatment he provides to those who leads. In this effort, intrinsic motivation requires transcendent motivation so the leader tries to consolidate a genuine commitment of each collaborator. For that purpose, each manager must reflect a strong commitment to the mission assigned and carry out his work in a passionate manner with the aim of achieving the expected goals. In order to manage the experiences of the collaborators we have identified four driving elements that middle managers should conduct in a convenient way to strengthen the intrinsic and transcendent motives of their subordinates: the direction to follow, the speed to consider, the autonomy to be granted, and the recognition to provide.

For following a direction, it is necessary to consider that the task of guiding each and every one of the collaborators towards a specific route is not a matter of mere formal communication: face to face or virtual. In addition to that, it is about demonstrating through concrete actions that the person in charge is dedicated to fulfilling a mission and is focused on obtaining the expected objectives. This requires a consistent behavior for transcendent reasons that the leader shows clearly and visibly. And it also means to know how to communicate in the informal or spontaneous environment, an issue that few managers usually handle positively. Following a course requires conviction and real desire for acting through a rational thinking and a passionate manner. That way it is possible to adopt the route for a specific end regardless it implies sacrifices. The way that leaders at middle level assume their mission and modulate their style is crucial for work teams to understand and want to follow a determined course to obtain the expected results. The orders and instructions are not enough. The task to indicate the direction to subordinates requires a positive rational thinking and at the same time a firm will to decide and goes forward.

Speed as an element of employee’s experience refers to having the possibility of deploying all the potential at the time of performing the work. This requires the adequate provision of resources, methods of work and facilities that allow each collaborator to effectively develop his talent and capacity. It is about the employees being able to do their best. As the good athletes, employees should be prepared to run on a properly prepared road, without obstacles, and even beat records. In this aspect it is vital to redesign and continuously improve the processes and operational standards, to use technology and adequate working modalities, as well as sufficient and effective procedures. The agility of the operative processes will be fundamental to gain in speed, and this requires the right systems, preparation and training, so each employee can carry out his task effectively and efficiently.

To get autonomy for working is undoubtedly a factor that adds satisfaction for employees. It also encourages constant effort and development in order to be able to effectively fulfill a certain task. In addition, it fosters trust, not only from an operational or functional aspect, but essentially from the ethical aspect. That way, subordinate and boss can achieve a consistent personal growth as they are improving their responsibility and loyalty as human beings. Autonomy can be promoted from the following activities: adequate selection, effective monitoring of employee performance and behavior, continuous training and development, positive feedback and coaching, evolution of the level of employee’s commitment. Autonomy favors the self-control of employees, both as a team and individually, which in addition to being effective, promotes their own personal improvement.

An essential element to generate positive experiences for employees in the organization is opportune recognition. It is as a great propeller of energies to serve customers, internal and external. Therefore, it is very useful to establish the mechanisms that facilitate the recognition of employees in a timely, specific and sincere manner. We refer to recognition of non-economic field, in which the social and emotional relationship with employees is strengthened. In addition, it is an act of justice, in which the effort and achievement of teams or individuals is valued. This act favors the relationship of trust and the satisfaction for employees as individuals and as work teams. Recognition strengthens the intrinsic motivation to continue developing the talent and not be satisfied with what has been achieved. When recognition to employees not only comes from the boss but also from customers, a double motivation is achieved, which contributes to strengthen the customer-company relationship. This means that both the experience with customers and the experiences with boss and co-workers are positive, which generates satisfaction and favorable feelings for employees. It should be emphasized that a relevant aspect in the experience of employees is precisely the ability of their peers to do the work and the interpersonal relationship they can maintain among them. Thus, an attractive environment that promotes high performance and solid cooperation among employees is fostered, which increases their contribution to the company.

In order to strengthen the transcendent motives of the subordinates and encourage their commitment middle managers require a personal preparation that helps them to create significant experiences and not only satisfaction and operational learning. In fact, it will be very useful and grateful that these experiences also foster a human and moral learning that contributes to the happiness of each employee. In recent years, the concept of happiness has been included as an aspect that the company has to consider within its work environment. It is relevant to understand this concept in the organizations and establish which can be the ways to contribute to the happiness for employees in some aspects. If each middle manager who leads employees promotes a broader and deeper view of the work that their subordinates do, and inspires them to do their best for favoring the achievement of the mission it will be highly probable that he will be contributing to the happiness of every subordinate, at least in part of it. This implies that middle managers develop a transcendent leadership, which demands the forging of their character through certain positive habits. This effort will give them the possibility to cooperate in a consistent manner with the consolidation of the organizational culture, that is, that their subordinates want to assume the mission assigned doing their best. Above all, the employees will look in the mirror of their boss and foster a personal learning that will favor the development of attitudes and moods related to the corporate culture. In this sense, this leader is able to promote unity that forges identification with the cause of the organization and the expected objectives for the work team. This leader will strive to develop his/her skills and competencies that allow him/her to solve difficult situations that arise in every human group, trying to get positive learning of each situation.

We can conclude that middle managers should be able to create useful and attractive experiences for their collaborators. To do that, they must focus on three aspects that Professor Rafael Alvira from the University of Navarra has synthesized when referring to leadership: the ends to aim, the style to improve, and the character to consolidate. It is vital to have managers that clearly know the ends that they have to aim, and how to focus on them according to the circumstances. Managers tend to focus on resources and tools, and lose sight of the ends. The management of resources is urgent, but the focus on the ends is determinant. This allows that leaders consolidate a strong motivational quality superior to the common mechanistic and/or social orientation that focuses basically on the economical aspects and an environment of wellbeing. This superior motivation also includes a human and ethical development that favors the personal improvement of employees. Likewise, it is important that these managers perfect their style to generate experiences based on intrinsic motivation that promotes employees satisfaction individually and through work teams. It is essential that middle managers strengthen their character, so they will be able to create transcendent experiences that deeply influence their subordinates favoring their personal development and commitment, which are really the best way to forge the growth of every human being. In order to create healthy experiences for customers, it is necessary to previously generate valuable experiences for employees and this imply to take care especially of those who manage and lead at the middle level of the organization, since the other factors that affect employees’ experience are not enough.

[1] Lescano Duncan, L. (2014), «The Discipline of Service, how to develop a new customer oriented culture focused on the person». U, Colombia, Editorial.

[2] Motivations of intrinsic and trascendent type have been proposed by J.A. Pérez López through The Anthropological model of the human organization, in order to identify the different motives that move people to satisfy their different needs, not only through the formal organizational system but also through the style and values from whom are guiding employees. Pérez López, J.A., (2000), «Foundations for managing organizations», Rialp, Madrid.

[3] Lescano Duncan, L. (2017), «Leaders of Service, how to develop a trascendent leadership at the middle level of the organization», e-book, eae, Germany.

[4] Heskett, J., Schlesinger, L., Sasser, W., HBS (2003).

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