As a leader it is vital to be truly connected to your team. We’ll get to that engagement in a moment. What’s it mean to be a leader? We are all leaders — by choice or by default — so the question is not so much “are you a leader?” as “how well do you lead?”
Effective leaders are, first and foremost, self-aware and conscious of how they impact the people within their sphere of influence. A leader must be vulnerable enough to have an authentic connection to others, charismatic enough to engage others and humble enough to realize that true leadership involves being of service to others.
According to national research fielded in 2012 on 1500 employees aged 18 to 61+:
- 80% of employees who felt “very dissatisfied” with their immediate supervisor were “disengaged.”
- 69% of disengaged employees would leave their current job for just a 5 percent pay increase.
- 61% of employees who have confidence in their senior leadership and feel they’re moving the organization in the right direction are engaged.
Troubling isn’t it. If you were the top HR executive who was given these kinds of figures about your workforce, you might have these and other questions popping in your head:
- Are we choosing the wrong people for management?
- Are we choosing the right people but not giving them the right training?
- Are we burning out employees by continually asking them to do more with less?
- Are we creating anxious and stressed employees through multiple rounds of layoffs, benefit cuts and various other company dynamics?
Clearly, there are no quick fix solutions to motivate your employees. This takes a planning, an unwavering commitment to change and execute the plan and the flexibility to meet your people before and at a point of need. An employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager is the single most important factor influencing engagement, the responsibility falls squarely on management to improve engagement and motivational levels in all their employees. However, here are some things to think about to motivate your employees:
1. Do unto others as you would have done unto you
When it comes to treatment of people, this is as basic as it gets. But powerful too – still as valid today as it was a few thousand years ago. It shows you respect your employees as individuals, and for the job they do. Validate them and their work as truly valuable and they will love you for it.
2. Actively Listen
You think this is easy? Try again, this maybe the hardest one of all to change one’s behavior and skill sets. To actively listen, to really listen is with all your being and all your focus – every ounce of your presence and your active listening skills. Ask really good, open ended questions and listen intelligently. People will love you for it because it shows you care.
3. Take a genuine interest in the future path of an employee’s career and of them personally
Your employee’s attitude will skyrocket when they believe you really care about them and where there career is headed. Mentoring, coaching, suggesting additional training or coursework – all of these can be helpful to employees, and highly valued.
4. Take a genuine interest in their work-life balance
To the extent that managers can offer some flexibility in schedules… and be understanding about family commitments, doctors’ appointments and so on – such sensitivity can be greatly appreciated. Small gestures often make a big difference.
5. Align individual economic interests with company performance
Okay, this does take more doing at the highest management levels than the rest. But incentive compensation programs that give employees at all levels of an organization a chance to benefit when a company prospers… can naturally boost motivation and engagement.
What are you waiting for? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @abetterleader.