Skip to main content

The #1 Dysfunction Preventing Wise Investment In Employee Engagement

You SAY you are bothered by the fact that employees are "checked-out."
You CLAIM you want them to innovate.
You DISCUSS over and over the fact that they just seem to sit there, taking up space, not doing nearly as much as they could or should.
But what, exactly, are you DOING about it?
The fact of the matter is that at any given time, most of the people working for you are doing exactly what you're worried they're doing: sitting there, underutilized and under-motivated, thinking about how soon they can log out, go home and get their sanity back.
You know this. You don't need to see yet another survey confirming this fact, do you?
And you say you want to do something about it. Maybe you really do, who knows: You're willing to consider their requests for a training class, after all.
But it's not clear to me that you REALLY want to motivate your staff, after all.
Because if you did, you would ACTUALLY do something about it.
You don't do anything, even though you know - or you should know - that employees are more than your greatest asset. In reality, they are your ONLY asset.
The reason you hang back, to be honest, is fear. You don't want to know what would happen if they did actually get engaged.
Maybe they'd end up firing me and taking over.
That is a very scary thought, right there. And you can't admit that you're afraid. Of course!
That's why fear is a HIDDEN dysfunction.
So you make up the most logical business reason of all to keep your staff from succeeding: money.
  • "We can't afford for you to take that class."
  • "We can't afford for you to be out of the office."
  • "We can't afford for you to stop doing all the other stuff you're doing and learn something not 100% related to your current job."

What I want to tell you, if you're even remotely in a position to help employees get engaged, is that these fears are not only unfounded.
They're actually KEEPING you, the supervisor, from progressing ahead in your career.
Consider this: A manager who helps employees gain developmental opportunities is BELOVED by them.
That means your staff are LOYAL to you, SUPPORTIVE of you, in SYNC with you, ENGAGED with the work they're doing for you, and most importantly of all, they TRUST you.
That's the first thing to know.
The second is that there are PLENTY of ways they can gain experience at absolutely zero cost to you. If that is truly what you're afraid of. They can:
  1. Get a mentor, inside or outside the organization.
  2. Be a mentor themselves.
  3. Do a rotation somewhere else in the company or agency.
  4. Do a detail outside the agency, part-time or temporarily.
  5. Join a working group.
  6. Attend class at a community college.
  7. Take on a leadership position in a related organization.
  8. Engage in low-cost online training.
  9. Teach themselves material with which to train other employees.
  10. And if you're brave - you can delegate some work to them that they are naturally talented at, but which they lack the skills to complete on their own.
Think about it: People have a natural survival instinct. Instead of fearing it, and trying to smash it down and destroy it, why don't you work with it instead?
Believe me, the stuff I'm telling you here - I didn't make it up on my own. Not at all.
I learned it from brilliant managers, the ones I've had who really understood the way to get the most out of their team.
The philosophy can be summed up in a single sentence, uttered more than a decade ago by one such individual, a chief of staff at an agency within the U.S. Department of the Treasury:
"The pie gets bigger the more you share it."
Consider the source: This is a person who should naturally say the opposite. After all, how can you split a dollar in half?
But he understood that power, like wealth, is never actually in limited supply. That in fact, these things exist not only in substance but in the mind.
And that generosity from the one has an actual physical effect on the other.
That oddly, giving away has an additive effect (or even multiplying) rather than subtracting.
That in the end, helping OTHER PEOPLE to succeed is the best way to boost your career after all.
________________
Photo by TaxRebate.org.uk via Flickr Creative Commons. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

________________
All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.