#1 Lack Leadership Development
The number #1 reason employees quit/check out — their boss. As a “boss” most of my career I understand the challenge. Not suggesting I’m perfect either. But are you learning from your mistakes? Maybe more importantly, are you actively helping your leaders learn?
Sitting on the Roof — Leading
Very early in my career, I worked for a business owner of a restaurant. I was promoted to shift leader than the manager. He was opening new stores and was starting to build his management team. I remember one day as he took me aside. He noticed that I had learned all aspects of the business and ran myself in circles being there for all of my crew. While he appreciated my energy he knew that it was not sustainable. He told me something that stuck with me all my career. He said that if I was effectively leading the store. Creating leaders and key members, that the team would run itself. If I could do that he didn’t care if I sat on the roof.
As the Owner or CEO, I think one of your primary focuses should be on developing leaders within your organization. At all levels. Continuously. If that’s not in your skill set or your other skills are better applied to different areas of your business…then find someone who is able and empower them to own your companies’ leadership development plan including succession planning. If you don’t have that person on your team yet — then start with finding a leadership coach to help build your skills, your teams, and help identify your leadership development lead.
Two areas to focus on in that role — communications and expectations.
There is no one size fits all approach to developing leaders. While all leaders should have good communication and people skills — some are better at leading people — others processes. It’s important to have that distinction to help clarify the next part — expectations.
- Effective communicator with their team — this includes listening, empathy, yet being clear about your expectations. There is great value in being a strong leader — just do it and be real.
- Attention — people and process require your time. Be Present. Close the laptop, turn off the phone, be engaged in the conversation.
- Building relationships — the foundation of leading is building a strong relationship so you can motivate and empower.
- Connecting Emotionally — feelings do matter. One of the most challenging aspects of leading is creating an emotional connection and understanding how emotional connection influence your team. As a Process Owner — how will it make your team members feel to meet the goals of that project? Ask them. Have them write it down and give I to you. When goals are met celebrate and read it back to them!
Next is managing expectations. You can have a strong “connection” with your team but if they are not clear what you expect from them…well, it’s not going to happen. Expectations manifest in three ways — Trust, Accountability, Results.
Let’s look at these, but Flip it — from your teams perspective of or expectations of you.
- Results — be clear about your expectations. CAREFULLY pick your goals, the leader must have direct responsibility to achieve that goal (profit, everyone’s goal — but usually driven by a few key leaders), identify measurable goals, break down into monthly/quarterly milestones.
- Trust — requires you to trust first — employees cannot learn to be trustworthy if you don’t show them.
- Accountability — empower them to achieve, be mindful of micromanaging — big deflator of accepting responsibly, be open to new approaches to solving the challenges — use Results/Goals to get clear
This topic, “Leadership”, may be the most written business topic of them all. Reams of research and methods exist. If you have not heard of Servant Leadership that may be a topic worth investing some time in.
Are you working towards sitting on the roof? What’s your measure of success for a leader?
#2 — They Dislike their Colleagues and the Toxic Environment It Creates
Start with the Individual before focusing on a Team
There is no “I” in Team — Are you kidding…that’s where it starts.
All of the rush these days is about Team Building and defining Employee Engagement based on how the team works together. Let me be clear….teams are important….employee engagement is critical…having a friend at work builds engagement…but are we forgetting about the individual? It’s my belief that stronger individuals make better team members. Stronger individuals are able to contribute and be more engaged.
Avoid Isolating Individuals
Matter of fact, I believe that pushing people into teams, team activities, making them attend company functions as a way to improve employee engagement can actually WEAKEN or DISENGAGE your employees. For those of you that had your company send the “team” to an outdoor adventure course for rope or pole climbing…was there at least a few that would not participate? And worse, some based on the peer pressure fought through the fear to avoid being singled out. What kind of team is that?
This kind of isolation, lack of respect for the individual…happens in offices and plants every day…sometimes team members are being branded as “not a team player”. Company parties, activities, events, “social” events…all pushed by leadership as acceptable if not expected ways to build teams and engagement — can and often do contribute to isolating employees.
Empowering the Individual
Now the question is, how do we connect, understand, empower individuals? It starts with listening to them…one at a time. Finding ways to connect with them. Bridge the companies “Purpose” with their own personal “Purpose”. Guess what employers? Most of your employees may have a “personal” purpose that trumps your companies “Purpose”. Now what? Fire them to screen out everyone that doesn’t share the company purpose as their own? Good luck with that strategy. It’s about alignment. HELP your employee accomplish their “purpose” and guess what….they will help you achieve the company purpose.
Discover Purpose Alignment
My suggestion… don’t hire or assign someone to be a “fun” ambassador but instead give an insightful good listener in your company, maybe the owner, CEO — big companies the whole executive team, the role to work with all of your hiring managers, people supervisors, to ensure that your COMPANY understands each employee as an individual, discovers their “Purpose” and give them one afternoon a month to connect with that purpose and let us know how we, the leadership, can help. Watch your team grow.
Two aspects of employee engagement to consider:
1) Emotion leads to Alignment
Connecting with your people on an emotional level is critical to empowering and getting an alignment. In business, the Marketing and Sale team understands that. They understand it’s about people and finding ways to connect with their emotion. Same for your employees. How? Check out Paul Herr, Employee Engagement expert, check this link to see how McFarland State Bank, building on a strong culture, is achieving exceptional results.
2) Information leads to Engagement and a conversation.
Information is power….and alignment, awareness, feeling of being on a team. For years I’ve spoken about created structures that aligned Marketing with Human Resources. Similar content but different messaging. You don’t talk to clients like you would your employees — very different voices.
However, your employees want to hear, learn and engage about what your organization does. Turn them into advocates. Empower them to be. Give them a way to engage leadership. This communication strategy, engagement, can also work for other channels you may have — outside sales team, agents, consultants, and investors. Leverage your marketing materials, media, and create both awareness and engagement to be in the know.
If you are looking for a solution — think mobile — especially for diverse teams. This type of communication — short announcements, quick feedback — is ideal for mobile.
Culture is getting a lot more attention these days. Primarily because finding top talent is getting harder, turnover is high and everyone is looking for reasons to attract, retain and differentiate. Many employers are trying to define, or redefine their culture.
The disconnect seems obvious.
Lack of Alignment
The alignment was missed in the hiring process — either the candidate did not understand what they wanted or most likely the company was not clear what their culture is. If it was even discussed in any meaningful way. It leaves a void for HR and Hiring Managers to effectively attract or screen candidates for alignment with the company’s culture.
Lack of Definition and or Execution
Companies that struggle to be clear what their culture is (beyond mission, vision and core values). Or if it is defined, at least in the mind of the leadership, but isn’t being communicated clearly to the team so individual or entire groups of what could be well intending employees don’t get it and lead their fellow team members astray.
A strong well defined and communicated culture will hold everyone in the company accountable to that definition…but all too often a weak or unclear culture leaves much to uncertainty and turnover.
Getting on Track
Entire books are written on helping organizations define and communicate their culture. There are a couple thoughts I’d like to share if you find yourself in need of defining, refining or improving communication culture.
First, the company owner, CEO and top leadership CAN heavily influence or even define culture, however, by definition culture is the sum of the whole…the personality of the company. At its foundation, it’s about emotion and leadership’s ability to both be emotional and live it too. A companies Mission, Vision and Core Values should all be alighted with Culture and the emotion and energy that fuels it.
The culture should support your companies Purpose. Why your company exists. Then define how the culture supports its purpose and what you are going to do to empower people to support that culture.
A key differentiator and value creator can occur when the culture is focused on people and how people drive and empower the organization. Whether that’s collaboration, continuous improvement, innovation or other key competencies that drive value creation, it’s the people — cross-functional behavioral teams, leveraging individuals and their talents.
Leadership has a huge role in setting communication culture, but it is a full-contact sport. To get traction with an organization culture — to make a difference — the team needs active and engaged participants. So I ask…
- How do you support your companies culture?
- If it’s not clear to you, who will you talk to help you understand it.
- If it needs to change, how?
- Can you describe the culture you envision and connect it to emotions?
- How can your companies culture better support what you are passionate about?
- If you lead people, do you talk about your company’s culture?
- If you hire people, do you have questions about your interview process that help identify if candidates have what it takes to align with the company’s culture?
In the comment section below…share what you can do TODAY to change, improve, communicate your companies culture.
About NotionPath and David McKnight. 25 years of experience serving employers building teams. Levering that experience as a c-Level leader to help employers improve their internal attraction, recruiting, selection and retention processes. #1 Issue facing most Employers today. For Wisconsin employers when you need to reach passive candidates in Accounting, IT, Software/Web Development, Executive Level leaders — David can bring one of Wisconsin larges network of professionals and 25 years of finding great talent to your organization. www.notionpath.com. Seeking work? http://notionpath.com/home/apply/Seeking Candidates? http://notionpath.com/home/great-companies/