Quote: “The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on empathy and listening not focusing on the bottom line results.” Mark W Hardwick, Ph.D.
Reflection: A recent Gallup poll estimates that a lack of employee engagement causes American businesses to lose $300 billion in productivity each year. That number is absolutely staggering! Poll findings like these also state that people feel worse about their jobs — and work environments — than ever before. There is a higher level of dis-engagement between the individuals, their bosses, jobs they do and the organizations they work for.
Dr. Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, authors of The Progress Principle studied 238 professionals in seven organizations.
They discovered that the most important factor in work place satisfaction and engagement at work was “making progress in producing meaningful work. Ironically, 95% of the managers, when asked what motivates their own employees, choose making progress last. This disconnect between what employees find meaningful and what managers think is meaningful for employees is a good indication of where we are continuing to go off-track in creating better “quality of life” at work. Is it possible that the “Peter Principle” (where companies continue to promote a person until they reach their level of in competence) is actually true? By not paying attention to the factors of engagement (including satisfaction, meaningful work and self-growth and worth of our employees, we are going to continue to not get the best out of our employees.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for engaging employees. If there were, the above study would have a very different outcome. Instead, I would like to provide a few simple, inexpensive ideas that can help you and your staff increase satisfaction, meaning productivity, engagement and inevitably, raise your organizational emotional climate and profits:
- Communicate openingly and regularly– Being clear, direct and honest with your company direction, values and challenges will provide exceptional return on your time investment. Lack of trust in information being provided (or, lack thereof) is an early indicator of long-term engagement and retention issues.
- Be Intentional– Provide employees with clear goals, resources, rewards and feedback. Do the same for yourself. Empowerment and feedback are the critical elements for improving a culture of quality and satisfaction.
- Provide Opportunities to Connect– The sense of community and connectivity is a critical predictor of satisfaction and belonging for employees. Here is an excellent article from Chris Cook at Capiche that discusses the importance of connections to our happiness.
- Focus on the MMFI Rule for Managing and Leading – Work on improving and developing your “people skills” by showing you really care about your team and their development as a group of professionals. For example, catch people doing the right things, announce and celebrate victories both professional and personal and overall start making employees feel important. Leaders need to “walk the talk” by modeling respectful and considerate behavior. Also by taking the time to truly listen, communicate and involve employees in workplace problems and opportunities. And above all else leaders must be willing to be accountable for poor judgment, mistakes and ill-treatment of employees and clients. This will go a long way to create and more human and satisfying work place environment.
These tips above may seem like common sense and conventional, but clearly many social science studies suggest that these type of activities are not occurring enough. Our potential star employees who are unmotivated, disengaged or even quit have a longing to belong and be inspired. They are looking for meaning and willing to give themselves fully when it comes from a sense of purpose. If one of the greatest keys to business profitability is the engagement of our workforce, what will you begin doing in 2015 to ensure that your workplace treats people better and makes them feel like partners?