Monthly Archives: March 2014

LMX: Are You Engaging?


Leader Member Exchange Drives Engagement

Great employee engagement has been shown to drive better sales, service and profitability. It makes sense, even without numbers to support the claim. It stands to reason that employees who believe in the corporate mission, have the tools they need, understand how their work is important, and intend to stick around will perform better than their disengaged peers. Jumping up a level, the engaged team or organization will stomp on its rivals, winning market share and raving fans for customers.

How do leaders play a role? There is a vast body of research that points to the importance of “Leader Member Exchange” or LMX. LMX is focused on the quality, content and frequency of interactions between leaders and team members. Those leaders who can connect with their team members in individual, meaningful ways tend to have more engaged people and better results. Knowing this is different than doing this, of course.

Some say that people are born leaders. We can make the opposite case, though, by focusing on this element of leadership. It is something that can be trained and measured. For example, we can ask a new supervisor to schedule and complete weekly 15-minute one-on-one conversations with each member of her team. This easily trained and measured tactic can help a person develop and grow as a leader. And this is just one example.

While some people are more charismatic than others, and will have an advantage in getting people to follow, charisma is neither sufficient nor predictive. Personality only gets one so far. The rest is about learning leadership skills, using them, practicing and having real impact on an organization and its results.

Leadership can be learned. Good leaders create effective, engaging LMX environments. Engaged teams win. It’s a simple chain of actions and results that define victory.


Learning Dynamics offers comprehensive leadership training and development solutions including Investing in People. Contact us to learn how we can help you create an engaging environment that creates winning teams and outstanding results.

Your Change Message Isn’t Getting Through

change bullhorn“The company is making strategic moves, but we don’t know why.” This is a common complaint when we get people talking. Maybe “never” is an exaggeration, but we see lots of agreement with the point during training sessions. Senior executives make decisions, the company is moving in a different direction, and employers further down the ladder don’t understand the rationale.

Followers are more likely to support change when they understand the reasons. As a matter of fact, one of the most common things that people do when they learn of change is to seek more information. Why are we doing this? What market forces or strategic calculations are part of the decision? How does this affect me? What can I do to help make this initiative successful?

Your best people will want to know how they can write themselves into the story. How can they make a difference and contribute to success?

Without information, rumor and speculation fill the void. Is the company failing? Am I going to lose my job? Should I be updating my résumé? Lack of detail and communication from the top can lead to distraction and lost productivity as gossiping floods the organization.

Here are a few ideas to enhance communication during change.

Over-Communicate: People don’t always get the message the first time. Repeat it, use different channels, and do it over a period of time. One email or memo is not enough for bigger changes.

Check for Understanding: If changes are significant, conduct listening sessions with the team. Do they have questions? Do they need clarification? Do they have concerns? Use your leadership team to open the door and executive ears to address all concerns.

Make Your Case: This is probably the most important. Develop a clear and compelling answer for the question, “Why are we doing this?”

One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is communication. If she or he cannot articulate the reason for change, there is work to do. The effort will be worth it with a shorter change cycle and a faster return to normal – and hopefully better – productivity. Plan your change strategy to include exceptional surround-sound communication.

Training Delivers More with Goals

training goals resultsGoals that are integrated into leadership training create better outcomes. This is the message of a study published by the Academy of Management Learning & Education in 2012 (abstract here). In this detailed work by Johnson et al., 360-degree surveys were used to measure perceived changes in people who had participated in leadership development training. Some had goals included in the training program, while other leaders did not.

The study showed a strong correlation between goal-setting by the leaders and the changes witnessed by their followers and other stakeholders. The message is clear: goal-setting with action and follow up will deliver better ROI on the effort.

What can your organization do with this knowledge? Think about how training can be aligned with business priorities and the routine activities of those who participate in the training. Ask participants to create goals based on the new skills learned.

Here is an example of what we are talking about.

Training Topic: Better Communication with Direct-Reports

Desired Outcome: Leaders who go through this training will understand how regularly planned check-ins with their team members will improve communication and organizational performance. Leaders will be encouraged to build a routine business rhythm for these sessions.

Goal:  Leaders will change their calendars to allow for one regularly-scheduled 30-minute check in with each direct report each week starting in two weeks.

The next step, of course, is to follow up to see if these things are happening and the impact the meetings – or whatever the targeted action – are having on the organization. If the desired outcome is to build communication between team members and their leaders, check in with those team members to see if it’s happening. Do they see a difference? If so, you win!

Every situation will be different. Your organization’s follow-up and measurement strategy will vary with the training activities and goals. Just remember to build a goal-setting component into your training initiative to improve effectiveness and ROI.


Learning Dynamics has more than 30 years of experience helping clients develop and deliver effective training programs that improve organizational performance. Speak with us today to learn how we can help you as you are Investing in People™.