By James Bird Guess
According to a survey by the Conference Board, a global market research firm, most of today’s employees in the workplace dislike their jobs. In addition, a survey conducted by Right Management, a division of Manpower, illustrated that 60% of employees intend to leave their jobs when the economy improves. It’s no secret that the majority of today’s employees are unmotivated and disengaged in the workplace and their disengagement according the Gallup organization costs employers roughly $300 billion annually.
What can organizations, managers and leaders do to create a workplace environment where employees are inspired to perform? Based on my experience of training thousands of supervisors, managers and senior level leaders across the country, I have concluded that workplace leaders must focus on being at least four things to their employees which display specific qualities that inspire, motivate, develop and empower employees to want to perform.
4 Things Leaders Must be to Bring the Best Out of People:
1. Be a Coach:
A coach is one who teaches, develops and helps employees identify obstacles that prevent top performance. Coaching is about strategically and tactfully asking your employees the right questions so they can learn to ultimately see things for themselves. Asking questions guides a person’s thinking. For example, instead of solving your employees problems and just giving them answers, a coach will ask a series of questions that probe the employee to solve the problem. This takes time, but if deliberately practiced, the employee will soon get in the habit of asking himself or herself the same questions and will ultimately develop a problem solving mentality just like the manager or leader who acted as the coach. Coaches are also energetic, passionate and lead by example. The coaching style is very attractive to employees who become receptive to the coach’s suggestions of new ways of working to improve performance.
2. Be a Sergeant:
A sergeant, just like a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army is one who pushes, challenges and transforms an individual to prepare them to succeed. As a sergeant, you must ultimately be ready to make decisions in times of crisis, emergencies and deadlines and stand by your decisions as your employees execute your demands without question. Keep in mind, many managers and leaders make the mistake of applying this style frequently, which results in employees who are only performing out of fear or they are intimidated by the manager or leader acting as the sergeant. While the manager or leader who frequently uses this style may still get results, he or she must understand that employees are more than likely only performing at half of their true capacity. They are indeed only performing just enough to keep from being fired. The sergeant must also knew when to apply pressure and stress to particular employees and teams so that they do not become too comfortable, complacent and content. The sergeant serves to remind them that in today’s competitive economy and workplace, there is no comfort zone!
3. Be an Encourager:
An encourager is one who supports, empathizes and listens to employees who may be experiencing personal issues, low morale, burned out or simply frustrated at work. So many managers and leaders continue to fail to understand that they must connect with their employees on a personal level. They believe that employees should just do what they are paid to do and that it is not necessary to get to know them personally. This is one of the biggest mistakes managers and leaders make and what they continually fail to realize is that an employee’s personal issues will eventually impact their professional performance. You do not have to become best friends with your employees, but you should know their hobbies, interest, personal goals, and birthdays. Remember, people don’t care how much you know and they won’t work as hard for you, until they truly know how much you care about them.
4. Be a Leader:
A leader is one who inspires people to pursue a greater purpose and ultimately a vision. Remember, the majority of employees in this nation dislike their jobs and since they are doing something they dislike on average 40 hours per week (160 hours per month), of course they are going to get burned out, lose sight of the goals and the vision. Being a leader means you must be a source of inspiration for your employees. You must sense when morale is low and do something that revitalizes them. Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change you wish you see,” so if you want upbeat, take initiative type employees, it starts with you setting the pace for your team to adjust and run instead of walk.
If you are not passionate and energetic about the work of your team and the organization, why should they be? Being a leader means living your vision and mission statement everyday with energy and reminding your employees that they are not just performing tasks and duties, but ultimately working for some greater purpose. Why do people volunteer for nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Big Brothers Big Sisters? It’s because they receive invisible compensation called making a difference. If you act as a leader your employees will take on extra work without asking for extra pay because they understand their purpose. People will work for a paycheck, we know that, but people will also die for a cause, we know that as well.
Finally, it’s important to understand that none of the leadership styles above is better than the other, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. They key is learning when to apply the styles in specific situations and to specific employees. Stay focused and keep Grinding for Greatness!