The most recent Gallup “State of the Global Workforce” report tells us that 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work, and it’s costing $7 trillion in lost productivity.
Is it possible that only 15% percent of your employees are engaged at work? If that’s the case, how much is it costing you?
As a manager, you have so much control over employee engagement. Sure, there will always be a handful of employees who hate the job, no matter how good you are at it. Still, you’re bound to have heard the old adage that “employees leave bosses, not companies.” And there’s plenty of research to back it up.
Gallup’s comprehensive “The State of the American Manager,” reported that half of Americans left a job specifically to “get away from their manager” at some point in their career. In organization’s with poor corporate culture or where management turnover is high (meaning, too many inexperienced people are promoted to management positions too quickly), those numbers are likely higher.
Certainly, taking your job seriously, investing in new leadership education and training, and working hard to understand your employees is a start. But, it is also your responsibility to motivate and inspire your people on an ongoing basis. If you make employees feel like they count, they will work for a higher level of success. When you leave them feeling more confident about their work and their abilities, they are better able to break through their own self-imposed limitations.
In a work climate where so many workers are disengaged from their jobs, especially if your predecessor was a less than ideal manager, you have to work even harder to motivate your team. While it takes effort, the strategies aren’t all that complex.
- Recognize employee efforts, even when they fail. It only takes a brief, one-on-one conversation with employees to recognize their effort or contribution to a project and to help them learn from their missteps. Don’t criticize or belittle; instead, praise and teach.
- Level with employees. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Stop beating around the bush, sugar-coating negative situations or avoiding confrontation. Even if employees don’t like what you have to say, they will respect you more if you are direct, open and honest with them. Fib or hide the truth, and they won’t be able to trust you, nor will they have the confidence to excel in the position.
- Build their confidence. Tell them what they are doing well, and help them improve their weaknesses. Prove you trust them by granting them some autonomy and decision-making power. Micro-managing rarely works.
- Welcome their feedback. Be open to suggestions, and encourage your employees to identify problems and offer solutions. Especially show gratitude when they point out flaws or disagree with your ideas and plans. They are close to the action, and know what works and doesn’t. If you become frustrated or shoot the messenger every time someone shares a concern, they’ll stop sharing (and caring about the outcome).
- Be available to them. Schedule time for them, and encourage them to come to you with concerns or questions. Most important, however, is that you pay full attention to them and listen when they need you.
- Communicate openly. Keep information and news flowing. Your team can be hurt by what they don’t know.
Probably most critical is to let them know that you need them. That they’re assets and that the team can’t succeed without them. It’s the truth, ya know. You need your employees performing at their best. Otherwise, you are going to fail. The best managers understand that and work hard to let employees know it. That’s how they get the best from their people.