Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out. – Stephen Covey
Randall Beck and Jim Harter teamed up to write a most revealing article in the Gallup Business Journal (http://bit.ly/1Jz4kv6) that every CEO, executive, manager, and leader should read. The findings, in short, reveal: only 30% of U.S. employees and 13% worldwide, are engaged, over the past 12 years those low numbers have barely budged.
In addition they add, “Knowledge, experience and skills develop our talents into strengths, but unless people possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will lead to exceptional performance.” Do you see the disconnect?
One thing we know for sure – the challenges in the workplace have never been greater. Too often people with “management potential” are elevated into those positions but do not have the necessary leadership skills to be effective. The result? Frustrated mangers who wonder why they can’t get anything done, companies with low morale, high turnover, and no sense of direction or vision.
Beck and Harter continue, “When a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business unit, everything gets better.” And herein lies the secret to raising the numbers – raising employee engagement.
Employee engagement is not a management skill; it’s a leadership skill. Employee engagement is a people skill that transcends management or business know-how. Management skill minus leadership skills can be detrimental, but when the two are combined it can be a powerful tool that can create great opportunity.
Key to the findings and to turning the low numbers around was managers who consistently engage their employees. The issues are complex and the solutions vary. That being said, here are my 5 C’s for Employee Engagement that can begin a process of improving employee engagement.
A natural function of a manger is to focus on systems and structure. But if that is your only focus then you will always be a manger and likely never a good leader. Being current is not so much about numbers and the bottom line; rather it’s about being relationally up- to- date with your people. Before you can build your company you have to build relationships. John Maxwell was right when he said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Be in the moment with your people and they will be invested in you.
Your people need to see that you are sincere in your desire to connect with them. If your people are important to you, and they are, then you need to be consistent in the manner in which you interact with them. Being current and consistent is not just paying lip-service to appease a few disgruntled people. It’s a genuine relational investment on your part. That does not mean you have to take them to the lake with you on the weekends, but it does show that you care. Being consistent is just as much for your benefit as it is for your people.
It’s helpful and encouraging to your people to know that you are attentive to their ideas, concerns, and that you welcome their input. When you build conducive and safe environments for your team to be engaged it builds trust, boosts morale, and elevates their level of commitment to the organization. Foster a culture that promotes engagement and you will see positive changes. Rather than be a manager that relies on controlling your people, you should strive to become a leader that inspires the trust of your people.
An engaged leader will challenge his or her people to maximize their talents, dare to take risks, and take ownership of their future. A conducive work environment is of no value unless your people are producing. Managers are more concerned about maintaining the status quo while leaders strive for new levels of excellence. This happens when leaders challenge their people to be their best.
Employee engagement rises and falls on good communication. Consistent and clear communication is the life-blood of your organization. Your people rely and depend on it. Clear communication is one of the single best ways to build the kind of engagement you need to be successful. Managers can be secretive and keep information close to the vest, but a smart leader shares information and thus builds a community of engagement.
Everything gets better with employee engagement. These simple steps are but a beginning. What would you add to the list? What step(s) would be most helpful to you if implemented today? Employees have been disengaged long enough. It’s time to act.
What do you say?
© 2015 Doug Dickerson