29 May Simple Truths
In 1799 a French soldier by the name of Pierre-Francois Bouchard stumbled on a building stone near the Nile River that forever changed human history. Bouchard was likely more concerned with the Napoleonic campaign with the British than he was some old rock with strange markings – but it was his discovery of the Rosetta Stone that ultimately deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs – and introduced the world to one of our richest cultures.
There are times that I liken the complexity of today’s world to that of ancient hieroglyphics – confusing and almost impossible to read.
For some reason that thought crossed my mind as I perused Gallup CEO Jim Clifton’s latest book – It’s the Manager. Along with Chief Scientist Jim Harter he’s published a fascinating insight into the business world …. and called out a pending storm that threatens to engulf us all as companies who’ve grown fat and happy through the power of acquisition are forced to face a sobering reality.
While we’ve expanded our waistline via deep pockets we’ve allowed our most precious resource to slowly atrophy.
People, it seems, have grown increasingly frustrated and disenchanted – and we are at epidemic levels as regards employee disengagement.
I invest almost all of my professional time these days in consulting and coaching – and maybe it’s because I touch these subjects daily that I have such a passion for the power of leadership.
All companies talk about it. Few embrace it. And that oversight could end up becoming their death knell.
It’s because the days of shopping for profitability (and acquiring another company or another brand) are coming to a close.
Like the people in those survival shows that dot the late night TV landscape we will soon be forced to either forage for our food – or we will surely starve.
That demands organic growth – not the acquisition driven variety.
And what’s the greatest single determinant of legitimate expansion?
Gallup points out that it depends on cultivating engaged employees who are willing to plunge forward.
The role of leaders in that journey will be a critical factor – a hard truth because a great many companies are not blessed with particularly strong managers – starting at the very top and descending through the ranks.
Gallup’s estimate is that we actually miss about 82% of the time when we place leaders.
Think about that for a while.
How do we change things?
The answer is multi-faceted to be sure but embedded in It’s The Manager are some interesting pearls – etchings that might help us decide on a legitimate path forward.
Take for instance the chapter labeled “Moneyball for Workplaces” – a simple synopsis of a dozen indicators that smart leaders can put in place almost immediately to impact employee engagement.
Written from the viewpoint of the worker, the statements below underscore long held truths that are often ignored – until it’s TOO LATE.
Consider that high performing individuals can answer in the affirmative each of the following:
- I know what is expected of me.
- I have the materials and resources to do my job.
- I have the opportunity to do what I do best.
- In the last week I’ve received recognition or praise.
- Someone at work cares about me.
- Someone at work encourages my development.
- My opinions matter.
- My company’s purpose makes my job important.
- My teammates are committed to quality.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last 6 months someone has talked to me about my progress.
- In the last year I’ve had a chance to learn and grow.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? And yet the indicators suggest we miss these points – again and again and again.
We employ some 150 million people in the United States. Approximately 66% of us are disengaged.
Two thirds of our work force doesn’t want to be where they are – at a time when the era of “Buy Our Way to Prosperity” is coming to an end.
The greatest single influencer of employee engagement is authentic leadership presence.
Deciphering our path forward won’t involve uncovering an ancient tablet in the middle of the desert.
It will begin with a simple decision – the one that focuses on our most vital asset.