Beginning in the 1990s, the buzzword employee engagement began to take root in companies throughout the U.S. The theory held that engaged workforces produced better business results compared to companies without engaged employees. Overnight, an entire industry of researchers and management consultants swept through corporate America happy to help businesses wring the most from their employees with endless surveys and mind-numbing strategies.
After years of trial and error and millions of dollars invested in so-called employee engagement programs we now know that most workers only have a handful of true needs. And, ironically, it’s up to you and your company’s leaders to connect with employees to make sure those needs are met, not a temporary engagement committee or your HR department.
Best-selling business author Patrick Lencioni has written extensively about employee engagement and what employees desire in any job: The Truth About Employee Engagement, The Ideal Team Player and The Three Signs of a Miserable Job are a few of his book titles.
I discovered Lencioni’s book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job while browsing in a bookstore. Given the book’s title I thought it might contain some tips to help me get past a rare low point I was experiencing with a job at the time. As I combed through the book, I concluded I didn’t have a miserable job, in fact, I had a great job. I was just tired.
Lencioni tells us what factors lead to miserable jobs:
- Anonymity: “Nobody knows who I am.” Because people cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known.
- Irrelevance: “What I do isn’t important.” Because all employees need to know that their job matters, to someone.
- Immeasurement: “I never know when I’m successful.” Because employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves.
What I’ve learned, as leaders, we must dedicate ourselves to making sure that nobody has a miserable job. If any of your employees have miserable jobs, that’s on you if you’re a company leader.
What can you do? A lot!
- Leaders have the power to make sure employees don’t have miserable jobs. Here are three steps you can take now.
- Pay close attention to your employees. Make sure they know that you know them! It’s really not that difficult
Make sure your employees understand how their jobs fit into the bigger picture of their department, division and company.
- Make sure your employees know they are relevant. Show them how they are contributing to the company’s growth. Use an accountability chart to help them know how their key roles help drive success in the company.
- Help your employees understand how to measure success in their role. Nobody should come to work and not know, “Was this a good day or a bad day? Did I contribute or didn’t I contribute? And how do I measure that?” Even in jobs that are difficult to measure, we should work hard to help people know how they’re contributing. Everyone should have a number, or two or three to help them measure personal success.
The Buck Stops With You
Yep, the buck stops with you because you’re the boss. Make sure every employee has a great job. Help all your employees know what you want from them by making it ridiculously obvious. Demonstrate that you know them. And make sure your team knows that every day counts; then help them measure activity because that’s the key.
When you focus on data, you leave egos, personalities and opinions behind. You’ll have an objective, data-driven scorecard that measures the actual health and pulse of your company, and helps everyone measure his or her performance. Make sure no one has a miserable job.
So, boss … get engaged!