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Friday, July 27, 2012

Great Leaders Inspire Excellence Through Mission

By Jason Milton, Senior Consultant

Sixty-hour weeks. Reports. Meetings. Email. Deadline after deadline after deadline. We’ve all found ourselves drowning in at least one of those things. The challenge for leaders is to keep their employees motivated to not only complete those tasks, but also to continuously do so with excellence.

The key is mission. Think about this story:

For years, a quiet orderly mopped floors, scrubbed patient rooms, and cleaned up bodily fluids. Never complaining, always smiling, this middle-aged man from Cleveland embraced the (apparent) monotony of his job. At the end of one of his graveyard shifts, a cynical colleague asked him how he could be so happy about mopping the same floors every day. Puzzled, the orderly replied, “I’ve never mopped a floor a day in my life. I work here so I can stop deadly diseases from infecting others.”

This story illuminates the importance of perspective -- and mission. The difference between average performance and excellence is often determined not by effort, but by perspective.

The first step is to ask each of your employees why. Why are you creating that presentation or writing that report? If their answer is, “To meet a deadline,” you should be concerned. Deadlines alone do not motivate employees to perform their best work, at least not in the long term. They certainly motivate employees to complete a task, but checking a box on a to-do list does not necessarily equate to excellence.

Through 30 years of studying organizations across the world, Gallup identified 12 key elements that separate the best workplaces from the rest. One of those differentiating factors is a sense of mission.

The best leaders make their company’s overall mission clear and help employees understand how their work contributes to a greater purpose. Even better, they help employees consider whom their work affects.

As a leader, you should help your employees understand that their work is part of a series of events that will change someone’s life. For example, an IT support person at a bank didn’t just fix a computer. He made a banker’s job easier, which led her to find a way to give that small business a loan, which allowed that business owner to hire that single mom who had been out of work for six months. Your IT support person will never meet that mom or hear that story. But that story would not have happened if he didn’t spend the extra hour diagnosing the computer problem or searching for a better solution.

So the next time you find your employees lacking motivation -- whether it’s to complete yet another presentation, report, or seemingly mundane task -- help them remember that they are not just mopping the floors, but that they are actually stopping deadly diseases from infecting others.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Secretary Clinton, President Kim Make Data a Priority

By Lymari Morales, Editorial Director

"Data not only measures progress, it inspires it.

Those words from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have been the most quoted at "Evidence and Impact: Closing the Gender Data Gap," an event co-hosted Thursday by the Department of State and Gallup.

Secretary Clinton went on to say: "As we have learned in this country, what gets measured gets done. Once you start measuring problems, people are more inclined to take action to fix them because nobody wants to end up at the bottom of a list of rankings."

Clinton's comments summarize perfectly why we do what we do at Gallup -- that is, collect data about how the world's people think and behave -- and share that knowledge with the world. We know that quality data is critical to helping leaders to truly understand their populations -- and to choose the best course of action to inspire development and progress.

The goal of Thursday's event was to encourage more collection, analysis, and use of gender-specific data in particular -- as a way of narrowing gender gaps worldwide and improving the lives of women and girls everywhere. 

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim also spoke at the event and reiterated the World Bank's commitment to the collection and dissemination of such data, announcing a new Gender Data Portal where users can find existing gender data from a variety of sources in one place.

Secretary Clinton also announced a new initiative called Data 2X, in which the Department of State will partner with key data organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, OECD, PARIS21, and Gallup, to begin to fill priority gaps in gender-sensitive data. 

We think about data every day at Gallup. But it's not every day that so many leaders and thinkers are gathered together to discuss the power and potential of collecting quality data on the most important issues we face together.

Secretary Clinton also acknowledged, "Data only becomes valuable when it is organized and put to work."  We couldn't agree more.

Watch the event video here, including the complete remarks from Secretary Clinton and President Kim as well as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton.  You can also see tweets from the event at #gendergap and @gallup on Twitter.

Visit Gallup.com for some of our recent findings on women.  You can also sign up for news alerts to receive future findings from us. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Inner Workings of Gallup Polls

Great polling is as complex and detailed as “successful heart surgery,” according to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport as quoted in The Christian Science Monitor’s new in-depth report on how Gallup conducts its polls.

The article is based on several weeks of research and interviews conducted by Jennifer Tulumello on her quest to learn about the craft of survey data collection. Gallup gave Tulumello access to sit in on conference calls and watch interviewers in action in order to better understand how Gallup collects the data it reports to the world every day.

While Gallup’s mission is to scientifically measure and quantify the views of the people, the article notes, “Gallup uses humans to craft the polls and conduct them.” Tulumello details the many steps of the polling process from how the survey questions are selected, to the interviewing center to how Gallup ensures that its polls are nationally representative.

Tulumello shadows veteran Gallup interviewer Mike Jablonski as he conducts interviews for a political poll and shines the spotlight on superstar Gallup interviewer Ed Dubas, who is on track to complete his 100,000th interview by the year’s end.

Go behind the scenes at Gallup by reading the article.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why Social Networking Belongs in the Workplace

By Nicole Linger, Senior Consultant

Many organisations are wary of their employees’ use of social networking sites on company time. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, many employers believe that social media sites drain workforce productivity and waste employees’ time. A recent survey shows that 42% of organisations ban workers’ use of social media sites. However, allowing employees to use social networking sites while in the workplace may increase employees’ wellbeing, which directly affects a company’s bottom line.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are an integral part of our everyday communication in both the business and the social arena. Employers who support work-life integration and overall employee wellbeing must accept this. Employees who have higher overall wellbeing have lower absenteeism levels, are less likely to leave the organisation within the next year, and have a greater chance of being engaged and productive.

Gallup’s research into wellbeing shows that there are five major elements to a life well lived: Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Community Wellbeing. If an individual can interconnect the five elements, all the better.

We spend the majority of our weekdays doing something similar to primary paid work, a job, or vocation. Our research shows that just 30% of employees have a best friend at work. Those who do are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher-quality work, have higher wellbeing, and are less likely to get injured on the job.

In contrast, those without a best friend in the workplace have just a one in 12 chance of being engaged. If we know that these friendships create a more productive environment, the use of social networking sites to build connections can only be a positive. Social connections build camaraderie among colleagues and lead to a free flow of business ideas, support, and trust.

Gallup research suggests that we need six hours a day of social time to achieve and maintain “thriving” status. Because we spend the majority of our weekdays at work, it is important for employers to create opportunities for social interaction in the workplace. What better way to do this than to have a best friend at work? Without a friend, work is a lonely place. We also need the opportunity to connect with our relationships outside of the workplace during the working day. In the past, this was done via telephone or email. Now people rely on new technologies to communicate, and employers too must follow this path.

Today’s environment is increasingly flexible; employers must focus on outcomes rather than process and hours at the desk. The demand placed on employees to deliver longer hours in and away from the workplace also requires them to be offered greater freedom during the work day. Social networking breaks actually make people more productive; employees do not use them to play games such as “Farmville.” Most employees use social networking to build and sustain the human relationships that drive their social wellbeing. The younger generation expects to have access to this mode of communication during their working day. Without this, they may take their talent elsewhere.

While it is the responsibility of any organisation to monitor the use of social networking in its teams (any manager should be aware of forms of abuse), employers should recognize that, in 2012, just as we used to pick up the phone and dial a friend to take a break, it is now as common to “tweet” or give a “status update.” All in the name of career and social wellbeing.

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