Engagement. Connection. Alignment.
Every organization covets these traits in its people, yet few organizations can claim to have this in the majority of their people. In fact, most companies have a gross disconnect within their teams.
Obtaining desired behaviors and emotional quotients in your employees doesn’t require driving engagement or connection down through leadership to the ranks. It instead requires a bubbling up of this culture from the staff to leadership by laying a strong platform on which people voluntarily get on board. In order to build this foundation, you need to identify any points of disconnect and root them out.
There are three core reasons why staff members experience a disconnect:
A lack of trust in leadership can stem from any point. Trust erodes quickly and the leader(s) who can ensure every touch point is an opportunity to build trust will create a core basis on which everything else is built. Examples of behaviors that undermine trust are:
- Poor communication, hypocrisy, and management not sacrificing as much as the staff
- Lying, favoritism, unfair internal hiring or personnel practices, body language, and lack of commitment
- Inequity or unfair processes that don’t apply to everyone
- Information given only to a few, or those who ask
- Opportunities to learn or advance that aren’t widely known
When staff members are required to do more with less, employees feel like they’re the dumping grounds for jobs management doesn’t want to do. Reduction of resources, layoffs, and demands for more productivity without the needed – or less – support all factor into disenfranchised people. Being a leader who makes processes and systems work more efficiently so your people can succeed will stave off overworked feelings. Other examples may include:
- Phrases such as, “The staff can do that, they have time, they can be more productive,” which communicate that staff are deemed a commodity and not valued as people
- Companies that require, or expect, their staff to take work home, work late hours or mandatory overtime, or be willing to sacrifice their comfort or work-life balance
- Broken systems that create more work, or barriers, or stress
One of the four basic needs is to feel important, or at least valued. Staff that don’t feel connected to the overall mission will start to contribute to another mission – their own. A wise leader will make his or her people feel appreciated and make sure the following don’t occur:
- Management that takes credit for work
- Skewed or uneven work-life balance
- Lack of praise, thanks, or even base recognition
- People having no voice in matters pertaining to the work environment, management practices, work systems, or applications thereof
The presence of any of these three reasons in your organization will make your team fractured and give cause for great talent to contribute…elsewhere. By not only preventing these behaviors but also building those positive actions that enable buy-in, you can keep your people more fully connected in your company.
Give your team many reasons to trust. Ease any counterproductive burdens and give them resources to succeed. Show how much they are worth to you as employees, as people. Then watch them go to bat for your organization.
More From Paul LaRue
Paul LaRue is the creator of The UPwards Leader and Instigator for Lead Change Group. His background in senior leadership,. strategic planning, culture change, and people and organizational development gives him unique insight into the workings of successful organizations. Paul has given speeches and training sessions for many public and private entities and stresses the virtue of a culture that centers around core values and character in leadership.