By Scott Patchin
Feb. 4, 2010
Have you heard any of these statements recently? “We have cut all of our low performers. All we have left is our best people.” Or “Right now, people are feeling lucky just to have a job. That is their motivation.” Both of these statements are risky beliefs at best to use in guiding your daily decisions as a business leader. At worst, you are hiding from a reality that is costing your business sales, productivity and innovative ideas each day.
The reality? A recent national poll by the Conference Board found the lowest job satisfaction rating since the poll was started in 1987. The current number shows only 45 percent of those working are satisfied with their jobs. Another poll of employers showed 8 in 10 felt their employees are “just happy to have a job.” When employees were asked, only 53 percent felt this way. These are all national polls with national samples. In Michigan, ranked 49th overall in unemployment, it is safe to assume that job satisfaction numbers are likely lower.
There is good news. There are simple steps you can take today, that when done sincerely and consistently, will increase the engagement of your people. They are simple, but not necessarily easy if they are not being done today in your business. I say this because they require new behaviors of leaders. We all know that getting someone to add a new habit takes time and discipline.
The following steps are built from over a decade of experience helping individuals and organizations build high performing teams. Our firm’s trU Performance model is built on the ideal that great performance happens when you:
Here are the five things that will help you build/rebuild engaged and high performing teams.
1. Listen - If you have a smaller organization (<100), plan a series of breakfasts or coffees with the CEO. The agenda is simple, bring questions you have and the CEO will answer them. If you have a larger organization, start planning a couple a month and invite people having a birthday that month or ask each department to send someone. If there are any things brought up that require action, write them down, follow through, and communicate back to the group what was done. Listening is a great way to show someone you care about them. Demonstrating that repeatedly is also a cornerstone to building/rebuilding TRUST, which is one of the key ingredients to having engaged employees.
2. Start Making/Communicating 12-24 Month Plans - Recently I was talking to a friend who is an executive at a manufacturing company and she shared how their planning window over the last two years had been 3-6 months, a result of the upheaval in the economy. Her team understands they have to get back to longer term thinking. Putting together a plan with some goals, communicating those goals/priorities to your people will help get them focus on opportunities in the future. Cascading these goals through your business will build FOCUS for the team because the priorities will be clear.
3. Executive Leadership Teams: Start Having Fun - If someone followed you and your executive team around for a day would it look like you were having fun? I once was told by a very perceptive person, “It is nice to see a spring in your step and a smile on your face. I have not seen that in three weeks.” That was after three weeks of dealing with one of those tough people issues. Just to let you know, everyone knows when you are overly stressed and not enjoying your work.
As a leader, your own engagement and passion for your work will set the tone for 50-60 percent of the people on your team who are just looking for someone to follow. People copy you. If you are showing up as engaged and CONFIDENT, many of them will too.
4. Celebrate Your Wins - In his classic book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins called the long-term impact of repeated progress the Fly Wheel Effect. Any achievements or progress towards goals are victories to celebrate. When you add a new customer, bring them in and introduce them to the team. When people increase CONFIDENCE in themselves, their teammates, and their leadership to make the right decisions, great things start happening. CONFIDENCE is a key ingredient to success.
5. Talk About The Business - One of the most powerful habits to engage people in understanding and leading the business is to get together to talk about it. Consider having a monthly review on the first Friday of every month to review what happened, what is planned to happen, and address any other common questions. This step is about building RHYTHM. Thirty days passes quickly when you are running a business. This is a critical habit in an organization that promotes engagement in people on a monthly basis.
Change is not easy, and the slow recovery will make ‘wins’ harder to find. Believe in the slogan “If you take care of your people they will take care of your business/customers.” There are opportunities to increase sales, productivity, and innovation. Having your people engaged and excited about their work will go a long ways towards making those ‘wins’ happen.
Scott Patchin is president of The trU Group, and is committed to helping organizations get the right people in the right roles to grow their culture and their business. Scott has served in leadership roles in health care, banking, and manufacturing sectors. He has called Michigan home for most of his life, and is committed to making Michigan the best state to work and live. Contact him at [email protected].