Are your employees reaching their potential at work? The answer is probably no. According to a Gallup study, 53 percent of workers are "not engaged" at work, which basically means employees are showing up but aren't excited to be at work and are ready to jump ship as soon as a better job offer comes along.
That's where leadership comes in. A leader wears many hats but the most important role might be the role of CEO, (i.e. the Chief Engagement Officer) because it's every leader's responsibility to ensure that staff are engaged and productive.
Engagement really comes down to five elements and if you master these, you'll be on the right track for creating a more engaged culture:
Effective management is about getting out of the way and enabling the team to succeed. That requires empowering your folks so that they can innovate freely. Most employees appreciate when leaders trust and empower them to do their work.
It doesn't mean ceding your role as a leader, it's about providing guidance and direction so they can win. Empowerment at its core is coaching and development.
As leaders, you create the vision you expect to see, define the boundaries and empower the team to color within those lines. This creates a pathway for independent approach but leaves the doorway open for your team to consult with the leader to ensure they are moving in the right or wrong direction.
In business there are always ups and downs -- and when the hard times hit, they can hit hard. That's when leaders have to dig deep to not only to motivate themselves but more importantly to inspire their teams to keep going.
This requires a clear eyed focus and understanding that there may be large swathes of staff who've never experienced serious adversity. They may be struggling with the unknown and need reassurance.
As a leader, create space for psychological safety, trust and help those struggling to persevere. This leadership attribute speaks to intention and creating an environment where the full potential of the team is unleashed. This requires modeling taking risks and acknowledging failure from which staff can mirror that attribute and know that they can go for the stretch goal.
As leaders, we need to create a high development experience culture to ensure that staff grow. The great thing about experience is that it is mutually beneficial -- leaders can share informing experiences that help employees grow as well as learn from staff.
This can be accelerated through mentoring, reverse mentoring, sponsorship, and buddy systems. The more knowledge share, the faster you can get to the team goal.
Employees can perform at their highest level when they know they're fully supported. If leaders don't equip their staff with true support structures they need, they're inadvertently setting them up for failure. And I'm not saying employees should be coddled, quite the contrary, staff should be provided with guidance and tools to do their jobs well.
In the first couple of jobs early in my career, I would describe the enduring culture as a "figure it out" mentality.
The sink or swim culture of scrappiness can be misunderstood and weaponized to where it causes employees to needlessly waste time trying to figure out the most mundane tasks. That's not optimizing for success, it instead creates a lack of productivity.
The first 90 days of employment are critical, speed up the process by having onboarding playbooks, a solid new hire orientation, and an office buddy to help new employees acclimate.
As a leader, the most important attribute is clear communication. There's nothing worse than a boss that doesn't provide clear direction.
The worst bosses I've had were categorically unclear about their expectations, would flip-flop on what they wanted and used confusing corporate double-speak.
Phenomenal leaders paint a picture so that their team can see the vision and where they fit in. If a leader can't render understandable guidance, it diminishes productivity because no one knows what the objective is. The best leaders are clear, and contribute to high performance.
If you want a high performing team, you have to engage in ways that support the five Es of engagement because, at the end of the day, leadership is a mixed bag of coaching, encouraging, guiding and driving. And Doug Conant, former President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company put it best, "To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace."