Ignore Your Staff And Watch Employee Engagement Plummet To 2%

Tags: Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leadership Worth Sharing Blog, Organizational Culture, Podcasts, Situational Leadership

Yes, you read correctly – 2%! This shocking statistic was reported in a recent Gallup poll that found employee engagement drops to an astounding 2% when employees feel ignored by their managers. Even more shocking, this poll was in response to a new organizational theory called holacracy where organizations completely eliminate the role of managers.

Apparently tried by some of the most highly touted and innovative companies out there, this approach lasted a mere 6 weeks at Google before they called it a dismal failure and re-implemented a management system. Zappos, on the other hand, is still plugging away with the no-manager approach but, according to the New York Times, is literally “hemorrhaging” employees as we speak.

Managers ARE the Difference to Healthy Employee Engagement

If these statistics aren’t enough to validate the role of managers, this Gallup poll also found that managers account for more than 70% of whether or not ‘employee engagement’ is healthy or not! In a nutshell, that means managers almost single-handedly determine their employees’ happiness and productivity at work. Do I have your attention yet?

It’s as simple as this folks. Your leadership presence and engagement, literally, is a VERY BIG deal to your people! I often preach, care about the business, but don’t lose sight of the people who help you run your business! Ignore them and you will be the only one left running the shop.

Better Managers Create More Productive Employees with Less Turnover

When it comes to leadership, the “number hungry” folks often ask me, ‘what is my ROI (return on investment)’ if I invest in leadership? Or asked a little differently, why should I really care about being ‘better for my people?’ The bottom line is that leadership is NOT about ROI in terms of numbers, but ROI in terms of overall health and performance of your organization.

And when I refer to ‘performance,’ Leadership is NOT just about business and numbers, but doing what you need to do to ensure team cohesion; transparency; accountability; collaboration; alignment; a high sense of employees feeling valued; and creating an environment of trust, respect and ownership among your people. And that CAN’T happen without your presence.

I mentioned to you that Google lasted only 6 weeks with their no-manager experiment. It fizzled quickly because they realized they need managers to handle people issues and problems. More importantly, this experiment validated their research that workers with the best managers performed better and had lower turnover.

While I applaud companies trying new things, Google really didn’t need this experiment to see that taking care of your employees will lead to higher employee-engagement . . . which leads to higher output, higher loyalty, increased retention, and of course, higher overall performance. It really is all about common sense and human nature. Give me a team who feels valued and I will give you a team who can conquer and take on ANY mountain.

3 Rules for Employee Engagement

So how do you engage employees? Let’s start with what employees have reported, themselves, as 3 of the most important things they need from their manager:

  1. Focus on strengths. As a manager, many feel that mentoring and growing employees includes helping them overcome their weaknesses. In reality, focusing on employee’s strengths are far more preferable to the employees and to their productivity. Employees who use their strengths every day are 6 times more likely to be engaged and satisfied while teams that are focused on strengths have 12.5% higher productivity. To be clear, a “strengths based” focus does NOT mean you get a “go pass” from leadership development. It simply means the approach is to focus first on strengths and then help overcome leadership impediments that could stop us in our tracks if we don’t work on them.
  1. Set clear expectations. Gallup research indicates that clearexpectations are the foundation of an engaged workplace that performs at high levels. This goes beyond a detailed job description. Employees want frequent engagement from their manager on how they’re doing. Feedback and calibration is vital to their progress and sense of feeling valued.
  2. Provide motivation. Employees thrive when they have a manager who motivates team members, overcomes obstacles, creates a culture of accountability, builds trusting relationships and makes informed, unbiased decisions for the good of the team and company. The key is understanding what makes your employee tick so that you can provide the kind of motivation they want and need. 

Where Do You Rank as an Engaged Manager? 

So here’s the million dollar question: Are you, yourself an engaged manager? If I polled your team, would they say you were there for them? Do they feel like you are providing them with consistent feedback, guidance and support?

If you can answer with a resounding “yes!” then great for you! Keep on doing what you are doing. The likelihood that you have an engaged – and productive – team is very high!

If the answer for you is a resounding, “I don’t know,” then it’s time to pull your team together, get their feedback and find out what you can do to be more ‘present’ for them. The approach is easy, you just have to have the courage and humility to do it. And remember this isn’t about YOU, but about team engagement and performance.

And, last but not least, if you answered, “I don’t really care about my team’s feedback.” I would strongly consider NOT being a manager. I might be ruffling too many feathers with that statement, but I really mean it sincerely, and not from the point of being judgmental.

If being ‘present’ for your people is not your ‘cup of tea,’ that’s OK, really. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that your people need you to be present. If it feels like pulling teeth to do that and you enjoy the ‘work’ much more than the people, then transition to more of a ‘work role.’ It doesn’t have to be overnight, but leave that ‘manager’ spot for someone who cares both about the business and the people.

Your Leadership Challenge:

For The Manager: Be present and engaged with your team. Check in with them from both business and ‘how are you doing’ fronts. They are depending on your for your guidance and leadership as much as you are depending on them to do the work. It’s a two-way street however.

For The Individual Contributor: Be bold. Create one-on-one time with your manager and give them feedback as much as they give you. It’s on your manager to guide you around work responsibilities. It’s on you to guide them around your support, communication and empowerment needs. Similarly for you, it’s also a two-way street. Give your manager the benefit of the doubt. They might not know how to properly engage with you and needs your help. 

Take a Free Leadership Assessment

I’d like to invite you to take a free leadership assessment. Simply type “leadership diagnostic” to info@therubihogroup.com. We will send you a link to an online leadership diagnostic and your results will be provided within 24 hours.

Ideally, you would have your manager rate you, as well.  Just let us know and we’ll make it happen. 

Feel Free to Share with a Friend or Co-Worker

One of my favorite leadership quotes is from Charles S. Lauer – a renowned leader in healthcare, “Leaders don’t force people to follow — they invite them on a journey.” Invite others on this journey by forwarding this blog or sharing on social media with the icons below.


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