Each Friday, I respond to a question from a leader. Today’s question addresses a real challenge in today’s world – engagement, or lack thereof. Specifically, how do you create a workplace where people care deeply about their work?
The statistics are staggering. According to Gallup, the level of disengagement in the American workforce is approaching 70%!
You can do your own math. Imagine the lost revenue and untapped potential in an organization, and a nation, in which the majority of workers don’t care. This is not an indictment on the American workforce; it is leadership malpractice.
You and I create the context in which people work. We own that, or we should. What can we do to create a place where people care? The actual list of tactics would be endless. However, here are a few strategies that can help.
Establish a compelling purpose. Help people see the why behind the work. This not only motivates a workforce, it can be a powerful incentive for customers to support your business.
Practice servant leadership. If you create a culture in which leaders understand they are servants first, engagement will go up. Are you a serving leader or a self-serving leader?
Set high expectations. I’ve met very few people over the years who want to be mediocre. I believe there’s something in all of us that responds when we’re called upon to deliver our best.
Create meaning in the work. Does the work matter? If not, why is it being done? If the work does matter, help people see the value in their work. Create linkage directly to the customer whenever possible.
Staff to leverage strengths. Do you have the right people in the right roles? As Gallup would ask it, do your people have the chance to do what they do best everyday?” People working out of their weakness are much less likely to be fully engaged.
Ensure everyone knows the score. People love to keep score. Does everyone know the score? Do they know the overall score, and do they have their own individual scorecard? Measurement drives engagement, the absence fuels drudgery.
Prune as needed. Not everyone will be successful in your organization. That’s okay. As Henry Cloud says, “Nothing that is alive will thrive without pruning.” Hard decisions about people who can’t, or won’t, make the journey will pay huge dividends for your leadership and the culture.
Creating a culture in which people care is hard work. Each and every one of the strategies above will require courage and discipline to execute. The dividends are huge. Just imagine a 100% or even a 200% increase in engagement. What would that be worth to your organization?[GLS_Shield]