Ever heard the phrase – people don’t care what you know until they know you care? Good leaders know that to manage and retain good employees they have to let their employees know they care. Productivity is a result. It’s not the other way around. I’ve heard leaders and managers say, “I’ll wait to see what they can do before I engage with them.” It ends up having exactly the opposite effect. Without engagement, productivity will not happen.
An article in Inc. Magazine recently reported that 85% of employees are not engaged – that’s an alarming statistic for any leader.
There is one key to changing this trend. Stop treating people as a resource whom you just pay and expect to do their jobs. Start treating them like worthy business partners in the pursuit of a more human-centered workplace.
According to the article, this means:
- Caring about employees being in positions that are suited for their strengths.
- Helping them learn and grow with managers that actually care about them.
- Granting them the autonomy to do their work without micromanagement.
These are not heavy lifts, but they do require good leadership. This might be the one thing that is in short supply in most organizations, and not because leaders don’t want to be effective, but because they are not trained and do not intuitively know how to motivate people. People are promoted to management because they succeeded in their previous role, not necessarily because they proved their management chops.
We need to start selecting managers and leaders for their ability to engage and motivate people – those who can effectively get work done through others – NOT get work done themselves, through intimidation or micromanaging. This requires training and coaching and like any other skill, time to learn and get it right. We would not put a novice skier in the Olympics and expect them to win. We spend years helping them train, building on a natural strength so they can get to the point that they might be qualified to compete. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a similar litmus test for managers and leaders.
So, what can you do to see how engaged your employees are? Ask. Surveys are a good thing and not complicated or expensive. Measure your retention. If it’s below 80%, you might have a problem. Do your employees feel empowered to take risks, feel like they are learning and being rewarded and recognized for good work? If the answer is yes, then you’re doing well. If it’s a maybe or a hard no, you may want to start with your managers and find out what’s missing.