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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Are You Checking in or Checking Out?

A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John Maxwell



Employee engagement is as vital to your success as a leader as ever. When a Gallup survey reports that only 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged in their work what do you think that says about leadership engagement?

The question we would like to pose to you is simply this: are you checking in or checking out as a leader in the way you engage your people? Your answer matters because in it reside signals not just to your leadership style but to the health of your organization.

Here are a series of questions we would like to pose to you for your consideration; a check-up if you will as to your engagement levels with your people and the state of your leadership effectiveness.

Do you know your employees on an individual basis?
Like any smart leader in business you make it a priority to know your customer. Knowing your target audience is critical to your bottom line. If it is important to you to know your customer does it not stand to reason that you should know the people serving your customer?

When you don’t take the time to get to know your employees on an individual basis, it clearly shows that you don’t care. How hard will an employee work for a leader who does not care? You will not get anywhere near the productivity or quality you need from employees if you do not show that you care about their well-being.

Check-In Tip: Get to know your employees on an individual basis. How are their families? What are their hobbies? How was their recent vacation?

Do you know what is happening on the ground level?
One of the dangers leaders can find themselves in is being too far removed from the front lines of the operation. We understand that the responsibilities you face as a leader in part take you away from the front lines so it must be a priority for you to return.

There is no way for you to know everything; when you distance yourself from what is happening on the ground level it’s like putting blinders on. What issues might slip by you? What opportunities might you miss?  

Check-In Tip: Get out on the floor; make your presence the norm. Be observant and engaged with what is happening on the ground level.

Do you have the right people in the right positions?
Your effectiveness as an organization is realized not when you have a lot of people but when you have the right people in the right place. When people play to their strengths and are passionate about what they do then your organization will excel.

None of your employees want to be just a warm body, and most of your tasks require some form of specialized knowledge or skill. When you give little thought to where employees can make the greatest contribution to the organization, you are crippling your operations and minimizing the importance of individual contributions.

Check-In Tip: Learn where your employees’ strengths lie. Then place them in positions where they will be engaged and challenged while making the greatest contribution to the organization.

Can your employees count on you?
The people in your organization need to know that you are a leader who is reliable and will have their backs. You foster trust and earn respect not merely by your words but in your day-to-day actions that demonstrate your commitment to their success.

If your employees don’t feel they can count on you, we’d be willing to bet that they won’t go out of their way to be there for you either. If you send the message to your employees that it’s every man for himself, be prepared to be left standing on your own.

Check-In Tip: Show your employees that you have their backs; knowing that they can count on you is a key factor in gaining the trust and respect you need to be an effective leader.

So, are you checking in or are you checking out? As a leader, you are setting the example for employees to follow. If you are not connecting with your employees and engaging in operations at the ground level, your employees will follow suit. And, disengaged employees do not reflect well on any leader and do not benefit the organization as a whole. 

© 2016 Doug Dickerson and Elizabeth Stincelli

Liz Stincelli is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. She holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. Learn more about Liz by visiting her website: www.stincelliadvisors.com

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