How do leaders in your organization see their jobs? Not long ago a culture client told me, “I used to see my job as managing processes and results. Now I see my job as managing people’s energy!”
Great things can happen with this mindset. One of our culture clients enjoyed a significant turnaround in their manufacturing plant, driven entirely by senior leaders shifting their focus to being “in service” to their staff. The Banta Catalog Group measured a 20% increase in employee engagement, a 17% reduction in employee turnover, and a 36% increase in profitability – in less than 18 months.
The Costs of Managing Only Results
Years ago a client described a retirement celebration he attended. Clyde worked for a large retail chain and served as a regional HR director. One afternoon Clyde was invited to a retirement party at a distribution center. He arrived just in time to witness the retiree, a gentleman named Jose, blowing out candles on a big sheet cake. There were 30 or so of Jose’s colleagues and a few region staff there to join in the party.
Jose’s colleagues called out, “Speech! Speech!” as the cake was being cut. Everyone encouraged Jose to say a few words. Ball cap in hand, Jose simply said, “For over 30 years I’ve worked at this distribution center.” He held up his hands. “During all those years you paid me to use these hands to do my work every day. But, you know what?” He pointed both index fingers to his head and said, “For the same money, you could have had my brain, too.”
Clyde related that there was a moment of stunned silence – after which Jose’s colleagues cheered, applauded, and scarfed down cake. Clyde, however, didn’t forget Jose’s comment so quickly. Jose’s experience indicated that, during his career:
- Jose’s boss (or bosses) did not ask him to THINK about the work he was doing
- Jose could have been much more engaged in his work
- Jose could have been a problem solver vs. a “cog in a wheel”
- Jose might not be the only employee who feels this way
Clyde decided right then to refine leadership development efforts to ensure that company leaders understood that their primary role was to inspire employees – not just manage “stuff.”
What are YOU Managing?
Consider these ideas to increase your inspirational leadership of team members:
- Set clear goals and coach appropriately. If you have talented staff, set the goal and let them run. If you have staff who are new to a task or goal, coach them (or arrange for expert coaching to occur) so they get up to speed quickly.
- Let team members apply their knowledge and skills to their daily tasks. If a team member gets the job done but it’s not how you would to it, that’s OK.
- Praise progress AND accomplishment. People do a LOT of things right. Validate effort and their completion of tasks, goals, and projects.
- LISTEN. Learn what team members want to learn about. Learn what ideas they have to improve efficiency. Learn how they’d do work differently. Support their efforts to make the work their own.
How does your boss inspire you? Share your insights in the comments section below.
Learn about my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, get a FREE excerpt (and automatically be entered in our monthly contest for the entire ebook), and more!
Photo © iStockphoto.com/vernonwiley
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