By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
Despite all the hard work bosses have invested in recent years to seem caring and attentive, statistics show that workers aren’t buying it. The average employee spends about 15 hours a month complaining about his or her manager. That’s basically 24 days a year, a full month of workdays, grumbling and getting nothing done. Right now employee teams and entire organizational cultures around the world are crumbling from misunderstanding and neglect. It is a crippling crisis of belief, and the symptom is what many we’ve spoken to in the military refer to as “retired on active duty.”
Consider these sobering statistics: As of late 2010, according to the Gallup Organization, 52 percent of employees were disengaged at work and 18 percent were so disengaged that they were regularly working against their organization’s goals. And nearly 80 percent of leaders feel like their employees are losing their drive, energy, and focus on results.
It takes a concerted effort to re-engage people. The process will require that you take some time away from your clients, from your deliverables. It will force you to become a coach and no longer a player. But the results are exponential as you learn to harness the full power of all the people in your care.
Following is an overview of the steps we’ve found most effective:
Define Your Burning Platform. Employees typically don’t buy into a way of doing business without clear and compelling reasons, and yet most leaders provide little or no justification as they introduce their ideas and strategies and ask their people for improved results. We introduce the best methods for creating this clarity of mission and developing the resolve to achieve it.
Create a Customer Focus. In the highest-performing cultures, managers convey that employees must focus like lasers on customers and have mandated a vigorous pro-customer orientation. This not only leads to exceptionally high client satisfaction and loyalty, but it provides moment-to-moment direction for all employees in making the right decisions and taking initiative on their own.
Develop Agility. When we initiated this research, it shocked us to find the concept of agility arising as one of the top handful of management skills in high-performance cultures. This recent research has shown that the top-performing companies are seen by both their employees and their customers as much more able to deal with change. Employees are more insistent than ever that their managers see into the future, address the coming challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities.
Share Everything. The best cultures are places of truth, of constant communication, and of marked transparency. Managers in these cultures share even the hard truths with their employees as soon as they can, and they encourage debate even if it rattles harmony. Employees know their managers will be truthful and direct, and that builds trust and a larger culture of openness.
Partner with Your Talent. Great managers think differently about their employees. They believe their success is a direct result of their peoples’ unique ingenuity and talent, not their own brilliance. As a result, they treat people like true partners and have a sincere desire to create opportunities for them to grow and develop—thereby retaining the best. Before employees will buy into a culture, however, they must be able to answer: “What’s in it for me?”
Root for Each Other. “In the most innovative companies, there is a significantly higher volume of thank yous than in companies of low innovation,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School. Given our background in recognition, we were thrilled to find higher levels of appreciation and camaraderie in innovative workplaces we studied, and cultures of great customer service, operational excellence, compassion, and ownership. In the best workplaces, teammates had much higher levels of goodwill, and they spent much more time thanking each other peer to peer. These skills created tangible esprit de corps and a single-mindedness about living the right behaviors.
Establish Clear Accountability. As a capstone to this process, managers must learn how to hold employees accountable—and yet they must turn this idea from a negative into a positive. Employees want to be held accountable for hitting their goals, but they must be given the responsibility and tools to ensure their success, and then rewarded when they see a goal through to completion.
Excerpt from “ALL IN: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Copyright 2012 by Gostick & Elton, LLC. Reprinted with permission by Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are The New York Timesbestselling co-authors of “ALL IN,” as well as “The Carrot Principle” and “The Orange Revolution,” which are sold in more than 50 countries. They are the founders of global training and consulting firm The Culture Works (TheCultureWorks.com). Find more details at: http://www.thecultureworks.com/books/all-in and http://www.thecultureworks.com/about/leadership/