by Kevin Eikenberry
Ok, you’ve all heard about the importance of engaging your employees. In fact, you’ve probably heard it directly from me or Guy if you’ve been hanging around here very long. Here’s some data to “prove” it though. Here’s what a survey from Maclean and Company recently found:
- A disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary.
- Disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity.
I love this type of research because it talks to the data side of our brain and reminds us that our work isn’t all about the data! In our book, From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership, my co-author Guy Harris and I talk about task functions of leadership and people functions of leadership. This fact illustrates the incredible connection between the two.
Here are some other facts:
- As leaders we are leading people.
- People want to follow people they know, like and trust.
And those things require an emotional connection, don’t they?
Let me see if I can enter the conversation that might be going on in your mind now:
Q: Does this mean we as leaders must become friends with all of our followers?
A: No, of course not.
Q: Does that mean I have to spend equal amounts of time with everyone, in some sort of fairness balance?
A: No – you will be naturally attracted to some people and their personalities, your personal connections, and more. That is ok. You don’t have the mental, emotional or physical bandwidth to do this with everyone you lead – but that doesn’t mean you ignore it with everyone either.
Q: What does this mean then?
A; Be real with people. Let them know you care. Be likeable.
Engagement is a great word, but a trendy one. Don’t lose the meaning underneath the trendiness. As a leader we are only leading if people are following. And people follow people.
Engage people because it is the right thing to do, not because it is another thing on our task list.