I had a conversation with a small business owner recently who told me she was sick and tired of having to spend her time on people problems. That topic comes up frequently in my work with emerging leaders and with the owners of small businesses. While I can sympathize with anyone who has had to deal with a steady diet of people challenges, in my experience, they are usually the result of two causes: Poor recruiting, hiring and performance management on one hand, and poor management on the other. Look, let’s be honest, there are some bad apples in the barrel, but as managers, we get paid to be able to separate the bad apples from the good ones, and only to hire and retain the good apples, right?
When employees disengage, it doesn’t usually occur in an instant, like a supernova. Rather it happens gradually, over time, as you wear them out with your bad management decisions and lack of attention to making your culture and your people a top level priority. Your top performers are always the first to leave when things are not going well. No great company, nor any company that aspires to greatness one day, can let great employee associates leave due to our inability to make them feel like we are running a great company. Here are the five deadliest sins when it comes to losing employee engagement.
Tolerating Toxic Underperformers – Your top performers want to know that they are being rewarded for their hard work and sacrifice. Nothing will de-motivate them faster than seeing management treat toxic employees or underperforming employees as if they matter as much as your highest performers. If you are unwilling to provide appropriate consequences to your weakest team members, you cannot expect the strongest team members to respect your management and leadership.
Taking All The Fun Out Of The Business – In a fast moving, fast changing economy like the one we’re experiencing right now, you have to make sure that people are having a good time, and enjoying challenging and rewarding work. If your team doesn’t have fun at work, shame on you! If your team doesn’t know HOW to have fun at work, shame on you again! You have to make winning a part of your culture, and when you win, you have to show some humanity by leading the celebration and having some fun. Work hard. Play hard. Nobody ever signed up for a company that said work hard and work hard some more. Make it fun and watch the team begin to perform better!
Don’t Show Your Appreciation For Results – There are people out there who say things, like “I shouldn’t have to babysit people to get them to do their jobs. That’s why we have paychecks!” I swear, I’ve heard several CEOs and Presidents utter nonsense as inane as that, when describing their frustrations with their team. News Flash: Everybody likes paychecks, but paychecks alone haven’t been the reason why the most desirable associates come to work for decades. You need to make it your business to understand what motivates your team, and then inspire them to make magic happen all the time! When it happens, you need to LEAD the celebration and LEAD the effort to recognize the team for their accomplishments!
Show Your People That You Don’t Respect Them – When people leave companies, generally they are leaving because they have lost respect for their manager or the management in total. Transparency, integrity, candor, and honor go a long way to making your team feel like they are respected and appreciated as peers in a business. Wise managers realize that they have to do many things to show their associates that they care, and they do it consistently, day in and day out, without missing a day. You can demonstrate your commitment to making your company a great place to work by providing some leadership, and balancing the focus on results with a healthy respect and appreciation for treating your people like they are a very valuable asset to the firm and a very important person in your life.
Don’t Bother Putting Your Goals Into Context – Your most talented people will challenge you, and you should welcome this. They will ask questions and want to know why the top 3 priorities are the top 3 priorities. Lesser managers take offense to such questions, and say things like “Because I said so!” Trust me, you WANT to provide context to your team, every chance you get! When your employees know WHY something is important, and it makes sense to them, they commit to it emotionally. When employees are just doing what they were told to do, their commitment is clinical, at best. When you give your team a deep appreciation for what’s important, it lights a fire in their soul, and they become passionate about winning.
If you want to excel in business, you need to be certain to manage your people like they are critical to your success. This makes sense, because your people ARE that critical to your success. I have yet to see a company succeed despite the horrendous treatment of their people. If you balance driving results with driving an outstanding culture in your business, things will go well, because those two efforts go hand in hand. Managers can find all manner of excuses to blame their shortcomings on, but there is no getting around the fact that human beings will run themselves ragged working for a cause that they believe in. Unfortunately, on the other hand, when your talented people decide that management is inferior, or inconsistent, or incompetent, they will quickly find another place to work where they will be valued and lead with competence.
Michael is a Business Advisor who specializes in doing executive development coaching with emerging leaders and first-time managers. Michael has developed a very successful methodology for coaching and teaching new managers and leaders so that they become high performers without having to learn over years, at the school of hard knocks. If you’d like more information about Michael’s Emerging Leaders Executive Development programs, send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Michael will send you information on the program and will share with you his Best Practices documents on Management, Performance Management, and Leadership. Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting…Delivering Ambitious Results!