Every four years the Gallop organization conducts a nationwide poll on employee satisfaction and engagement, and every poll tends to show similar or worsening conditions. The Gallop polls are readily available to everyone, including the leaders of organizations, and one would think statistics that continually show that 73% of the workforce is disengaged would be sufficient to induce them to look for a better way to lead. Oddly, it doesn't. Why? Well, it's anyone's guess, but I believe it's because most leaders assume the problem is with the people in their employ, not with them. As a result of this persepctive, the typical approach is to give the employees additional training. Which is rarely the answer. that leads to another big why. And the answer to that one, is that disengaged employees don't need more skills, they need more interest in thier job and the comapny they work for.
Focusing on skills training is the wrong approach. Before anyone is willing to learn better skills, they have to be intersted in learning. And before they are interested in learning they have to have the right conditions for interest to develop. In the workplace there are five primary areas that determine interest level.
2. The Work Environment
3. Job Fit
To the degree that any one of these is lacking, interst is diminished, and disinterested employees are disengaged employees. Ad, as you might imagine, there is no way to get the best from a disengaged employee. So, how do you engage employees so you can get the best from them?
1. Leadership - Start by matching leaders to the departments they are to head and making sure they have the skills, emotional maturity and personal attributes to lead the people on their team effectively.
2. The Work Environment - It isn't always possible to match every employee to the overall organizational environment, but most can be matched and those that don't naturally fit can still be effective if their department is properly protected from outside pressures to conform. An example of this is an advertising firm that has a very casual, upbeat, creative environment. The artists and creative writers thrive in this environment, but the administration department found all the playfulness and "goofing off" tedious and distracting. The "goofing off" is actually how the creative employees get their creative juices flowing and create the brilliant promotional pieces that keep clients happy and give the administrators a job. But, being serious, nose-to-the-grindstone types, they still found it hard to appreciate the light, playful atmosphere to which they were regularly subjected. To get the best from the serious-minded employees in that environment, they needed to be sheltered from what they viewed as frivolity. The firm had a suite in a large office building so the answer was quite simple. We advised them to rent a small suite that was just down the hall from them and move the administrative department into that suite. The CEO feared the admin employees would feel isolated so I asked if I could do a survey of them to see what they would prefer. He agreed. I did the survey and 100% of the administration department chose the option of haviing a separate suite. They were moved and allowed to set up their suite to suite themselves. The environment they created was a very orderly, subdued one, and in very short order they were happily working away. The end result was one comany with two very different environments, both serving the company well. Physically moving a group or department isn't always necessary, but to get the best from a team that doesn't fit the overall culture, sheltinring them in some ways is.
3. Job Fit - The landmark leadership book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, came out almost ten years ago. In audiences of leaders, when I ask who ihas read the book, almost every hand goes up. Leaders know that the importance of getting ther right people in the right seats, so why are they not doing it? I believe the anwser is that they don't know how. The popular assessments on the market that claim to predict job fit are not meeting the challenge and neither are the typical pre-hiring and placement procedures. Employers need to look deeper and broader than they are now looking so they can see the whole picture; skills, natural abilities, what is developed and what needs to be developed, what energizes and interests the individual and what stresses them out, how they manage stress, how they are likely to interact with others, how they will handle the tasks necessary to doing a good job, their emotional maturity and so much more. The only assessment I know of that does all that is the CORE Multidimensional Awareness Profile (CORE MAP). CORE MAP is a very robust system that has saved the organizations that use it hundreds of thousands of dollars and prevent mant hiring mistakes that did not show up using other assessments and hiring practices.
4. Co-workers - The key to effective work relationships is tp people an organization with healthy, emotionally mature employees. The only way to do that, however, is to hire emotionally mature people with well-developed trait sets or to provide the training necessary to get them to a healthy place. When you can see deeply and broadly enough, turning around a team or even and entire organization is possible. Here's what one of our clients had to say about just such a turnaround.
“As Director of Employee Training and Organizational Development for my company, I have used Dr. Buffington’s services on numerous occasions. The results have always validated why her services are so valuable to the success of our employees, executives and the company in general. During one or our most memorable and effective engagements, Dr. Buffington and her team were asked to help turn around one of our most important yet least effective, and highly dysfunctional, organizations. In a relatively short period of time the assistance and guidance provided to the organization and my department resulted in a complete and phenomenal turnaround. Customers now routinely comment on the effective way our employees support them. Attrition was reduced to zero, employee morale significantly improved and employee effectiveness went through the roof. I encourage any decision maker who is not experiencing the maximum performance of her/his organization’s employees to contact Dr. Buffington and her NaviCore team for immediate assistance. Your return on investment will be significant.”
We have found that employees want to do a good job and they want to get along with their co-workers. Give them the tools and they will.
5. Meaning - More and more, meaningful work is a driver of performance. It always has been, but the need for meaning is on the increase. Yet, most companies don't bother to convey to their employees why they are in business, or what their values, vision mission and purpose are. When an employee can't see the value of their work in the scheme of things, thier work has no value. They are simply there for the paycheck and they are not engaged. To get the best from employees, it is essential that they see the value of what they are doing.
If you want great people who consistently perform at peak levels, stop focusing on what they are or are nopt doing and make sure these five things are right.