Sometimes when I read the sad news of employee disengagement (sad, but too often valid) and choices for managers and the lack of training for those managers and how only a small percentage of employees can identify their company’s strategy on a multiple choice test I’m reminded of Albert Einstein's quote:
Insanity - Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Yet, companies do that. They do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Okay, they do it faster or louder or with prettier colors or new slogans. They do it to their employees, from on high, with mandates and emails and policies created in private meetings or offsite strategy sessions. You’ve heard of trickle-down economics? Same theory. Engagement at the top, among the top, will somehow trickle down on everybody else. Yeah, it doesn’t work any better.
Now, Look around you. What are you doing? Full STOP. Put those engines in full reverse. Do the opposite. Stop trickling on your employees’ heads. Invite them to participate. That’s right. Invite their opinions, feedbacks and ideas and criticisms. Engage with them, not each other in your echo-chamber.
No, not with a survey. That’s a poor excuse, a surrogate, for real engagement. Besides, if you don’t know what’s happening around you right now ... okay, no one’s perfect and no one has ‘real-time’ feedback ... a survey’s not going to tell you or it will only tell you what you want to know.
Are you having meetings about employee engagement without employees present? Stop. Then start inviting employees to meetings about them and their motivations and energy and ‘discretionary effort.’
Are those meetings filled with powerpoint presentations? Stop. Start talking and listening, like adults - okay maybe like children in a playground - to and with each other.
Are you not meeting with employees ... everyday? Stop. Start walking the halls and building a relationship with your employees. One day at a time, one conversation at a time.
Are ignoring a department, a shift, an employee? Stop. Go visit with them. Make the first meeting an unscripted meeting. Use real words, your words, not high-falutin’ business school buzzwords, yes, like employee engagement. Talk to them from your heart, why the business matters to you, your vision, how you started out, why you started out where do you want to be five years from now. Leave your assistants out. Don’t hand out employee manuals or your communication’s department missives.
Have you ignored their training? Stop. Start training them. They might end up staying with you.
Have you ignored their equipment upgrades? Stop. Buy them the best of something, today. Tell them why. Tell them how and why and when you'll do it again.
What have you got to lose? Doing what you’ve been doing is ... insane.