By Michael Gunther
What causes a lack of employee engagement? This simple question typically elicits responses ranging from basic to complex ideas. I noticed that business leaders — from “mom and pop” organizations to those overseeing companies of thousands of employees — all tend to struggle with answering the question. I feel that leaders believe there must be a holy grail solution that will transform their team. I actually believe that the answer is simple, but it is the consistent implementation of the concept where the complexity of the answer comes into play.
Treat people as you want to be treated. Yep. That’s it. Simple. Basic. Yet, one of the more difficult concepts to apply and hold yourself accountable to as a leader. This perplexing idea got me wondering: What is it that prevents leaders from leading based on this perspective? If leaders were leading consistently from this place, we would probably see stronger numbers than 3 out of 10 employees feeling engaged, according to Gallup.
Think about it – don’t you want people to treat you with respect and value what you bring to the table? Isn’t transparency and honesty important in your communication with others? Wouldn’t you value others who meet their outcomes and are accountable to their commitments? Don’t you want to be on a team with a clear purpose and passion for achieving their goals? So, why should your employees’ desires be any different than yours?
If your employees were asked about your leadership skills, their answers may surprise you. Many times, I have seen situations where the leader believes they are operating at a much higher level of effectiveness than their employees think they are. According to various studies and surveys, the probability is that you are not operating at the level you need to truly engage your team to be top performers. Basically, you have room for improvement.
To be blunt: if all the managers think they are great while the data shows the opposite – someone is not living in a reality. Management is hard. People are dynamic individuals with ever-shifting needs and requirements. Even managers who were once strong but never evolved may find themselves on the ‘not so good’ manager list. If you find yourself complaining about your team and their lack of commitment and poor achievement, I recommend taking a hard look into the mirror. These issues start at the top so the buck accurately does stop with you.
Don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand in relation to your true effectiveness as a leader. Own the concept that the issues and challenges with your team are your responsibility and begin treating your team as you want to be treated. Simple idea, but one that is complicated to implement. You may be amazed how forgiving your employees will be if they see that you are trying to change to become a better leader and actually care about their success.