THE NEED

The blended learning program was designed to prepare the production business unit's immediate managers to more effectively create and sustain a motivational work environment to increase the level of engagement in direct reports. The program supposed that, by providing a more motivational work environment, the production business unit managers would have a positive impact on the work engagement of their 32 line employees. The program would evaluate the extent to which any improvements in work engagement led production to higher performance, productivity, business results, and/or profitability.

Work engagement is a positive psychological state of mind that researchers have linked to employee satisfaction and superior job performance. Research suggests that higher levels of work engagement are associated with positive feelings of individual well-being (vigor); a strong sense of commitment to the organization and its mission, goals, and objectives (dedication); and the employees' full concentration and involvement with the work itself, where time passes quickly (absorption). Work engagement is measured by the frequency an employee experiences the three psychological substates of vigor, dedication, and absorption at work. The self-coaching skills taught during the learning program were intended to help the participating managers create and sustain a more favorable environment for work engagement to positively affect employee motivation and performance.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

Five self-coaching skills were taught to production business unit managers during a rigorous 90-day blended classroom and online learning program that included on-thejob skills practice, journaling, and peer interaction. The objectives of the program were for each participant to 1) describe, relate, and apply the concepts of motivational work environments, work engagement, and organizational performance; 2) effectively employ the five skills to create and sustain a motivational environment that positively impacts work engagement and organizational performance; and 3) develop a habit of continuous self-coaching for the personal development in, and the practice of, the five skills.

A Summary of the Five Skills

Rooted in self-coaching, or the personal practice of monitoring and assessing one's own job performance, the five skills are self-managing, reflecting, acting consciously, collaborating, and evolving. Self-managing refers to clearly knowing one's self and practicing self-discipline and control in one's actions, communications, and interpersonal relations. Self-managing requires managers to understand how they are perceived by others, and how these perceptions can affect the business unit's overall performance. Reflecting is the practice of silent observation, or detaching one's self from emotionally charged situations to view these situations with much greater clarity. Helping the manager avoid ineffective or harmful courses of action, reflecting suspends judgment to consider the environment, situation, and possible decision outcomes. When acting consciously, managers are more deliberate in their decision making. Because they take the time to understand the facts and nuances of a situation, these managers have a heightened awareness of the consequences and desired outcomes of alternative courses of action. By engaging in informed, conscious decision making, these managers deliberately and decisively act to achieve optimal performance and results. Collaborating managers invite team contributions, not just the opinions of a chosen few. Promoting a spirit of inclusion and abundance, these managers fully use the talents of their employees so they can more effectively achieve organizational goals and objectives. Evolving managers continue to purposefully grow and develop themselves, both personally and professionally. These managers are open and eager to learn, and they are quick to see work challenges as opportunities for improving their own capabilities and performance.

Basis for Linking Skills to Performance

Research suggests that immediate managers who consistently and effectively practice the self-coaching skills of self-managing, reflecting, acting consciously, collaborating, and evolving play a significant role in shaping motivational work environments that positively affect individual and group performance. Motivational work environments more effectively engage the talents and abilities of employees in ways that positively influence their behavior on the job. Specifically, because motivational work environments lead to greater levels of employee satisfaction, work engagement, and productivity, the more highly engaged employees outperform their lesser-engaged peers. Effective managers afford their people the opportunity to perform well by providing them with critical resources and information needed to do an excellent job. These managers also provide meaningful professional development and growth opportunities, recognition and rewards, and other support valued by their employees. Superior managers build trust, treat people fairly, genuinely appreciate the contributions of their employees, and respect each person as a highly valued member of the team. By clearly communicating organizational plans, goals, and objectives, and by setting and enforcing high standards of performance, these managers successfully align the personal aspirations and efforts of their people with the mission, goals, and objectives of the organization.

 
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