Many companies have a huge problem right now. Some realize they have this problem, while others are clueless. They are trying to fix symptoms of the problems instead of the problem itself.
You can read poll after poll about the disengagement that exists in many companies right now. Dale Carnegie Training and MSW research partnered in 2012 and discovered that out of 1,500 employees polled that close to 70% of these employees are disengaged from their current employer and in their job.
So what does disengagement mean?
There are three classifications for workers in these studies.
Engaged: Employees who are committed and actively involved in contributing to the company.
Not engaged: Employees that show up everyday, but will not go the extra mile for the company. Are really looking for a reason to leave.
Disengaged: Are really seeking to hurt the company. These employees have negative attitudes and do more harm than good.
As the chart below by Gallup shows , millennial’s have the least amount of engagement in the workforce compared to their peers.
The research conducted by Dale Carnegie and Associates found that there are three major contributors that determine engagement by employees in the workforce.
- The employees relationship with their immediate manager
- Belief in Senior Leadership
- Belief in the organization
For years I have heard this saying “People don’t quit companies, they quit people” (managers). They quit bosses or so-called leaders. I know this is true first hand, and you most likely do as well. The research by Dale Carnegie and Associates confirmed this is true from the respondents, by discovering that the number one reason for engagement at work is the relationship a person has with their immediate manager.
Managers, Directors, Supervisors, etc. are the ones managing the day-to-day operations of a business. These leaders are the ones that are required to keep the employees engaged in getting the job done. Unfortunately, many of these leaders are not fully engaged themselves.
These day-to-day leaders are instead dealing with the problems amongst themselves from the decisions that are being made at the Senior Leadership level.
Here are five reasons that lead to disengagement that I have been a part of my self, and witnessed in many companies. These five things are driving disengagement at the manager and director level. Which is trickling down to the rest of the organization as well.
- The leaders who are making the decisions about the business are the ones furthest away from the actual day-to-day business.
- I understand that most companies are one step away from being sued for any reason a slighted employee can think of. However, in an effort to keep everything consistent, many great employees are being prevented from earning more or getting more perks. Which causes great employees to be less enthusiastic about the work. These decisions are usually made by senior leadership or a department that knows very little about the day-to-day jobs of the employees.
2. When people are more concerned about protecting their territory than making the best business decisions.
- It is a blood bath sometimes at the different levels of leadership within an organization. I have watched senior leadership make decisions strictly to go against the best interest of the company, all in an effort to make themselves look better and to show they have control over another leader.
3. When decisions are based on emotions instead of facts.
- Often times we as humans make decisions strictly on our emotions. If you think for a few seconds you can come up with a recent decision you made strictly on feelings and emotions. If this is the case for most individuals, why would we be any different at work? The answer is we are not.
- Unfortunately, the people who have the ability to make many of the decisions are not making the decisions on facts, instead they are making them on emotions. Those emotions could be nostalgia, the decision could go against a previous decision that they made, it could be ego, or insecurity. All of these are emotional reasons. And guess who is not that emotionally tied to the decision? The manager or employee that is looking at the issues objectively. Which then creates more discontent with the individual that has to live with the emotionally determined decision.
4. When leaders make decisions, but don’t implement strategies to manage the decisions.
- I can remember many times in my career where a major initiative was decided upon by senior leadership. The initiative might have been a decision to serve the employees better through some kind of perk or incentive. Or it could have been a major process or policy change that could alleviate a lot of frustration or extra work among a certain department or group within an organization. These decisions were made and communicated to everyone that needed to know about it. Then after a few months or a in as short as a few weeks, everyone could tell that this decision wasn’t actually that important, because no measurement or management was implemented to ensure that the decision was carried out.
5. Everyone wants to be a gangster until its time to do gangster shit. (Tony Soprano)
- I have found that most leaders just want the title. Especially at the Senior Leadership level. They get the title, but they don’t want the responsibility. Unfortunately, by the time they get the title it is too late. Poor executives/senior leadership will hire a manager or director and hope that this new hire or promoted internal candidate will fix everything. This is rarely the case. Senior leaders are relying on managers and directors to carry out the hard stuff while they sit back and dictate what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the managers and directors are watching senior leaders who aren’t willing to do the hard stuff themselves. This is their example. Guess who gets hurt in all of this lack of decision-making and accountability? The employees and the company.
So what do you do about this? What can you do if you have this in your organization?
It starts with candid feedback for everyone within the organization. It requires a senior level leader to take a hard look at what is going on within their company and then having the desire and the nuts to fix it.
The other way to get a grip on it. Is to hire a company or an individual to come in and do an assessment and get a feel for what is going on within the organization.
In either case, leadership has to be willing to take the necessary steps to change the culture and organization around. This is where the hard stuff begins.
Senior level leaders can’t expect managers and directors who are running the day-to-day operations to be engaged in the business and get others to be engaged in the business if they are not doing what they can to ensure the managers and directors are engaged first.
To your success and your future.
Research: Dale Carnegie and Associates Employee Engagement study (2012)
Dale Carnegie and Associates recently conducted a global survey of 3,300 full-time employees across the globe. The research was centered around leadership and the impact leadership has on the employees motivation to work and to stay with the company.
One of the staggering statistics that came from the research was that 4 out of 10 employees surveyed are looking for a job now and would like to be in a different company and position in 2017.
One of the topics they asked the respondents was: Comparative Importance and Performance of Supervisors of Effective Leadership Behaviors. This means what is an important leadership behavior that you want your leader to have; and do they.
84% of the respondents said that having a supervisor who has the humility to admit when they are wrong or when they make mistakes is a very important leadership behavior they want in their leaders. And 51% of the respondents said that they have supervisors that admit it consistently.
I don’t think we have to discuss why 84% of the respondents believe it is important. We all have been around someone who we knew was wrong before. And that person, most likely even knew they were wrong, but they wouldn’t admit it. How did those situations sit with you?
The chances are you were furious. You were annoyed. You were perplexed that this person was wrong, and you knew it, they knew it, and everyone else knew it, but they were unwilling to admit it.
In our personal lives when this scenario plays out we are more likely to call the person out. You might say something like “Come on man, you know you are wrong”. “Are you serious, do you really not see that you are wrong on this”. “Admit it you are wrong”. Growing up with two brothers I know I have said this many of times, and they said it to me as well.
However, on the job people are not as casual about it, especially to their supervisor, and definitely not to senior leadership. Most employees would not call out the leadership this way.
So instead what happens, the employee goes back to work. And like I said in the scenario above. They are frustrated, annoyed, furious, and perplexed that the supervisor or other leaders was wrong and everybody knows it, but they wouldn’t admit it.
I am not a psychologist, but I understand that we as humans have an innate desire to not be wrong. We like to believe that we don’t make mistakes. That we do the right things. That we do what we say we are going to do. That we are always on top of things. But if you are reading this, it means you are a human and as a human you know that this is just not the case.
We are not always on top of things and we are definitely not always right. We are going to make mistakes. If you are in leadership you are going to make them a lot, because you are making lots of decisions everyday. That is really your job. To make decisions. And you aren’t always going to make the right decisions, because you won’t always have all of the information. Which is okay. It is impossible to have all of the information. You take what you have at the time, decide, and move on.
Because the nature of leadership is making decisions. If you are a leader you have to become better, I mean really good at admitting mistakes. Just admit it. Own up to it. Once you do this it shows your team that you are genuine, that you are transparent, and this makes them trust you. And this is what it all comes down to. TRUST.
The statistic of 4 out of 10 employees surveyed are looking to find another job. Why do you think that is? Well, if they can’t trust their supervisor or the leadership, then why work at the company. Trust is a fundamental requirement to all relationships. Without trust nothing can exist in my opinion. Trust is the foundation.
If you aren’t willing to admit when you wrong then you are technically a liar, or you are stupid, which is worse. People don’t want to work for a liar, and they definitely don’t want to work for an idiot, which is another blog for another day.
To your success and your future.
Most leaders are lying to their employees everyday. Some of the them are doing deliberately, while others don’t even realize it. And it all comes down to the fact that some..
Well, based off my observations…Most leaders…
Aren’t willing to do the one thing that all leaders must be willing to do, and that is be very candid with their employees.
They lie by telling their employees they are doing a great job and the employee is really not. Or, they are not telling them anything at all and just ignoring them. By ignoring them they are lying as well. By saying nothing to the employee the leader is communicating through their actions that they are pleased with the performance.
In both cases the leader is hurting three parties by not telling the employees the truth. They are hurting the organization, because the organization is paying for an employee that is not meeting expectations. The leader is hurting themselves, because they are not getting the work that needs to be done, done. More than likely the leader that is unwilling to give the necessary feedback is doing more work and dealing with more headaches, all because they are unwilling to coach the employee the way they need to be coached. And lastly, they are hurting the employee.
In my leadership training and coaching business I ask business owners, managers, executives, leaders, etc., about the behaviors they are seeing or not seeing from employees. Many times, the reason I am meeting with the business owners or leader is because they have some kind of gap in the skills of the people they are looking to get training for. Hey, I am thankful for this.
However, what I must remind them of is this. Most of the challenges that they are facing is because some leader in the organization, or they themselves are the ones that are unwilling to have the hard conversations to deal with the issues the employee is causing.
The phrase that I use most often with leaders and business owners is “Are you being candid with your employees” or “Are your managers being candid” with their employees.
Many leaders unfortunately tend to ignore bad behaviors altogether and hope that if they ignore an employee long enough they will quit. You also have leaders who are not straightforward enough or candid enough, with the shortcomings of where someone is not meeting expectations. When they speak to the employee about their shortcomings, they do so by watering down what it is that the employee needs to hear. Many times what needs to be said goes unsaid. Some watered down version of the truth gets communicated and what needs to be heard is rarely said.
The tool that leaders must include in their toolbox is the willingness to be candid with their employees. From business owners to senior leadership, all the way down the line to front line supervisors. Everyone must be willing to provide the hard feedback when employees or managers are not meeting the expectations. Until the person understands clearly where they are not meeting expectations, they can never improve their work performance.
I tell business owners all of the time this. “To be unclear is to be unkind.” When we are not straightforward and speak with candor with our team members. We are being unkind. Because they don’t know where they are falling short, which means they don’t know where to improve. Which means they can’t improve. You as a leader must be truthful, straightforward, and direct when communicating with employees. You don’t have to be an ass about it. That is another blog for another day. However, we do have to be truthful and candid.
Are you being candid with your team? Or are you ignoring the shortcomings and just staying frustrated with certain team members on your team or management staff?
The way you fix this is easy. If you want to learn how to provide the candid feedback that is necessary, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share with you the playbook that I use.
To your success and your future.
If you are like most leaders you are making your way in to work today and there is someone on your team that you need to give some hard feedback to at this very moment. The chances are you have been delaying it for days at least, probably months, and some of you have been delaying it for years.
Why haven’t you done it yet? There are a lot of reasons, maybe one of these are yours.
- Because you are fearful of how they might respond.
- You don’t want to hurt their feelings.
- You just never do the hard things.
- You are afraid that they will quit.
- You keep telling yourself it really isn’t a big deal, but it keeps happening.
- You say that they do so many other things well.
- You are about to get promoted or quit so you are passing the buck.
- You are waiting for it to resolve itself. (it won’t)
- You don’t know how.
I am sure there are other reasons as well, but from my experience these are usually the reasons.
If you don’t know how, I am going to give you a process that you can apply today that will make this easy. Now, unfortunately, courage doesn’t come with the process. However, if you practice the process enough, overtime you will gain more courage because it will get easier and you will become more comfortable at doing it.
As the title states. A lot of leaders have been taught the shit sandwich approach. I am not saying it is a horrible process, but it doesn’t always feel right. This is where you give them some praise for something that they have done. Then you tell them something that you want them to work on (feedback), and then you give them some more praise on something that they do. From my experience, this process can sometimes water down the feedback you are trying to provide. I am not saying leaders should stop this altogether, I would just use caution when applying it especially with some of the bigger issues.
Now keep in mind, I don’t want you to only use the process below when you are giving what could be viewed as negative feedback only. You should also use this process, and do it quite frequently, to provide good feedback as well.
I have used this process and others for many years with great results. You can apply it to a subordinate, a peer, a child, etc. This process has been credited to the Center for Creative Leadership, but everyone has their own spin on it. You can see the framework below, but I would encourage you to modify it to make it work for you.
The process goes like this: You want to tell the person about a situation that you recently witnessed that they did something. I will give you an example here in a minute. So you remind them of the recent situation. You then tell them the behavior that you witnessed. And then lastly, the impact that the behavior had on that situation. Lastly, ask them their thought on the situation and then ask “what would we do differently the next time we are in that situation.
- Impact it has/had
- What will you do differently next time.
Here is an example:
“Joe in our last meeting I noticed that when Joan was talking you cut her off several times, not allowing her to finish her thoughts on the project. (situation) By cutting her off (behavior) it doesn’t allow her to make her contribution to the project and we want everyones buy in on this project(impact). Did you realize you were doing that Joe?” Joe responds. “In future meetings lets be sure we get everyones contribution to this project.
Maybe it is something a little more simple as showing up on time.
“Frank I have noticed that about every few days or so you have been coming in later and later to the office. Being late doesn’t allow you to plan accordingly for your day. This impacts your productivity as well as the teams productivity. ” I would then ask if something is going on that is causing this. And then move to resolving the issue and discussing the consequences if this behavior continues.
Look, giving hard feedback is never easy, by using a process it will allow you to give it to them the way they need to hear it.
Apply this process today and let me know how it works for you.
To your success and your future.