A Powerful Visual
On Monday night, two AFC East football rivals played under the lights. The New England Patriots had traveled to take on the New York Jets. New England took an early lead and seemed to be dominating their opponent in every phase of the game. While leading 24-0, head coach Bill Belichick called his entire defense together to “coach them up” on the sidelines.
What was remarkable was watching the players. Every eye was on Coach Belichick. They listen to every word and nodded in agreement. It was a powerful visual moment. Even though they were winning, Belichick knew they could do better and he challenged them. It was an image of an engaged leader and an engaged team.
I’ve been in managing people for nearly 30 years and one of the biggest challenges has always been getting people engaged in the business. How do you get them fired up, excited, and actively helping you achieve the organizational goals?
The Gallup organization famously does a survey every year to measure the amount of employee engagement around companies in North America. The thing they find consistently year-after-year is that 70% of employees are typically disengaged at work. It’s a number that doesn’t change. In all the improvements we have made in leadership and business, we haven’t been able to solve this one problem. Overall employee engagement is poor and it isn’t getting any better.Overall employee engagement is poor and it isn’t getting any better. Click To Tweet
The question is, why are a vast majority of employees just clocking in and out without any desire to get involved with their employer?
A Monster We Created
The sad thing is that when most employees first come to work at any new job, they are excited. They want to be involved and engaged. For many, this is their dream job and they have spent years in school or in training becoming qualified for this role. They want to make a difference and be part of the team.
What ends up happening is these new employees quickly become disillusioned.
They work for bosses who are too busy to lead – bosses who ignore them, don’t listen to their ideas and don’t treat them with the respect they deserve. And most leaders don’t understand how their actions affect their people. These wide-eyed, excited, new employees get slapped in the face with the cold, hard reality of leadership in Corporate America. And after a while, many new employees just give up.
They say to themselves, “You know what, I’m just going to do my job, keep my mouth shut and go home.”
The problem with employee disengagement is that it’s a monster we created. We built this. It’s the leadership in Corporate America that took excited, engaged, happy employees and turned them into apathetic, sarcastic, and discouraged workers who are just trying to make it through the day.
The clear problem with employee engagement in business today is leadership (or the lack thereof).
Back to Basics
You might be surprised to learn there have been more than 15,000 books written on the subject of leadership. It seems our knowledge of leadership has never been stronger. It also seems like our practice of leadership remains subpar and it’s getting worse. The busier we get as leaders, the less time we have to spend with our people. In a time where we are all connected digitally, we are becoming more disconnected on a personal level.In a time where we are all connected digitally, we are becoming more disconnected on a personal level. Click To Tweet
If we want to solve this problem, it’s time to get back to the basics of leadership. Leadership is simple – It’s about influencing a group of people to accomplish a goal. There are three main elements: people, influence, and goals. Do you know what’s not on this list? E-mails or meetings.
The average manager today is too busy to lead. Many business leaders come into work and they have full inboxes and long to-do lists. They spend the morning banging out e-mails because they have meetings to get to. They have back-to-back meetings then head out to lunch with a customer or vendor. By two in the afternoon, they still haven’t even seen any members of their team. And the process repeats itself the next day.
Most managers are forgetting about people, influence, and goals. And most employees feel their manager just doesn’t care.
We have to remember that leadership is a people business.
Make a Change Today
The first step in solving this problem is to recognize that, as leaders, we are in the people business. We have a team of people who work for us and we need to engage them. Just like Coach Belichick, if we want engaged employees, we need to be an engaged leader! That’s the bottom line.If we want engaged employees, we need to be an engaged leader! Click To Tweet
As a leader, you can never underestimate the power of your presence. So be present!
Physically push yourself away from your desk. Even if you’re swamped with work, get into the workplace and talk to people. See what’s going on. Engage your team!
Try this out for the next two weeks and see if it makes a difference in your organization. Focus on people, influence, and goals. You’ll be surprised by the results.
If you are striving to become a better leader, get a copy of my Amazon best selling book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.