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Culture Clash

6 Jul

I had the pleasure of co-authoring an article with Rob Moss on the importance of paying attention to differences in culture between two organizations that are considering a merger or integration. The article appears in hfm magazine, a publication of the HealthCare Financial Management Association.

Here’s a link to the entire article, entitled Culture Clash.

Living In Fear At Work Is No Way To Live

18 May

I spoke with a friend of mine who is looking to leave her current employer. She is an outstanding employee– hard working, highly skilled in her functional area, considerate and helpful to her coworkers, and passionate about serving others.  Her direct supervisor loves her; in fact, when her supervisor learned she was being wooed by another company a couple of years ago she was persuaded to stay.

Why would someone leave a job they like with a supervisor who wants to keep them? A senior leadership team that uses fear and intimidation as their modus operandi, that’s why. Here’s what she told me:

Most people here are walking on egg shells around the CEO, who is a tyrrant. We are all scared of her irrational behavior. There are times when she intimidates people, thinking this somehow will motivate them. It does just the opposite. My boss tries to shield me from this, but the fear people feel in the office can be cut with a knife. I love what I do, but life is too short to put up with this crap.

I feel badly for my friend. She is a good employee stuck in a company run by a leader who should be supervising a Cold War Soviet gulag instead of a twenty-first century company.  Sadly, her lament is something we hear far too often from employees who weigh in via employee engagement surveys collected by our research partner Quantum Workplace. Here’s an employee offering a similar sentiment:

There is too much fear in the organization. It prevents us from making quick and decisive decisions. Form over substance is the primary guide for certain management. Heavy politics prevents success.

What a shame. What a waste of time and talent. The philosopher Sophocles said “To him who is in fear everything rustles”. Too many employees are in environments where they “rustle”, where their hearts and heads cannot be put fully to the task at hand for fear of the despot leader.

Of course, people don’t have to be managed by fear and intimidation. The companies with highly engaged employees we studied and who are profiled in Re-Engage actually work hard to minimize fear, knowing that this approach brings little long-term value to the enterprise. Contrast these feelings with the following employee, who lauds his employer for allaying fear in the midst of these more difficult economic times:

In these uncertain times the leadership of the office has gone out of its way to hold staff-wide meetings to keep us informed of how the firm is doing and what it is doing, short of layoffs, to hold down expenses, and to try, generally, to assuage the fear that is naturally going on right now.    Trusts its employees to do their respective jobs without undue interference or micromanagement.

Here’s another employee, who has chosen to stay with her employer, in part because of a leader she can trust:

I have had opportunities to leave the organization, but have chosen to stay because of the leadership of our operation and the opportunities that are afforded me and my fellow employees.  I believe leadership is honest and provide crucial information about the current state of our industry in light of the economic down turn.  This transparency has kept me here.

Bravo.

Employees don’t have to be motivated by “do-this-or-else”. Leaders who feel a need to manage by fear and intimidation are, in my view, broken. In this case of my friend, the CEO has a Napoleon complex that serves no one. It’s pathetic, really.

We’ve found employees can be motivated in so many more productive ways, such as desire to contribute to something important, a need to feel part of a productive team, or an opportunity build one’s skills and talents.  What leaders need to do is help employees find the best within them to bring out that talent.

Want to engage and re-engage employees? Stop leading with fear.

(Photo from by stuant6 on Flickr)

On Employee Engagement and the C-Suite, by Leigh Branham

10 Mar

I hope you enjoy this post, written by my colleague and good friend Leigh Branham:

I encourage anyone interested in employee engagement to read a report recently released by The The Economist (co-sponsored by The Hay Group), titled “Re-engaging with engagement: Views from the boardroom on employee engagement” .  The report is based on a survey of 331 C-suite executives or senior directors from 19 industries in Europe and the Middle East.  I would be interested in hearing from readers in the U.S. (and internationally) about whether you believe the findings also apply to senior executives in your country, or in your company.

The Survey Findings:

The most disturbing findings were these:

  • 84% of survey respondents say that “disengaged employees” are one of the three biggest threats facing their business.  Yet, only 12% report that their companies “regularly and often” confront staff with “continually low engagement.”  C-suite executives themselves admit that employee engagement is discussed “occasionally”, “rarely,” or “never” at board level in 43% of companies.
  • More than one in five in the C-suite believe that employees are “much more engaged” than those in rival firms, compared with only 7% of respondents outside the C-suite.
  • 47% of C-suite executives believe that they themselves “have determined the levels of employee engagement” in their companies, a view shared by only 16% of senior directors outside the C-suite.  Only 13% of C-suite executives believe that line managers and middle managers are “chiefly responsible” for staff engagement.

My Take:

I was not surprised by the first two findings.  My experience has led me to agree with the report’s conclusion that “a sizeable discrepancy exists between what companies say about the perils of disengagement and how far they will actually go to confront the problem.”  This describes most companies, but not the minority whose CEOs are committed to building best-place-to-work cultures–CEOs like Jim Sinegal at Costco, Kip Tindell at The Container Store, Vineet Nayar of HCL Technologies, Tony Hsieh at Zappos.com, Howard Schultz at Starbucks, Dr. Kim Hoogeveen at Quality Living, Inc., or Graham Weston at Rackspace Hosting (these last two are profiled in our new book, Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort in Extraordinary Times, co-authored with Mark Hirschfeld).  The business success of these companies speaks for itself that employee engagement works.

Now that “employee engagement” has reached true fad/buzzword status, many CEOs have pretended to embrace it by jumping on the engagement survey bandwagon.  But alas, many have not followed through by acting on employee ideas and feedback.  I think most CEOs no longer need convincing that employee engagement is vital to business success, though some, incredibly, still express doubt. The main reason most CEOs don’t aggressively tackle the employee disengagement issue, I believe, is that it appears “soft” and overwhelmingly difficult (soft = hard) to do so.  After all, in many cases it would mean a complete overhauling of the culture.  Most CEOs, especially at public companies, would much rather, in their boardroom discussions, deal with the nearer-term topic of how to increase quarterly profits.  The irony is, of course, that the surest way to increase profits is to build a culture where engaged employees consistently exceed customer expectations.

The finding that many CEOs are more optimistic than their subordinates about how engaged their employees are compared to rival firms is not surprising considering that most CEOs are generally optimistic and take seriously their role as cheerleader.  The cause for concern lies in the fact that they may be isolated from the reality that those one level down can see more clearly.

Good News, Bad News

What I did not expect to see in the survey was the degree of responsibility that CEOs take for controlling levels of employee engagement in their companies.  This should be good news.  But, if almost half of CEOs believe they are the prime mover of employee engagement in their companies, why are so many not doing more to drive it?  Our analysis of 2.1 million employee engagement surveys from 10,000 employers (in partnership with Quantum Workplace) does indeed show that senior leaders influence employee engagement slightly more than direct managers in that they do set the tone, embody the values, and convey the culture.  But it would be a mistake for CEOs not to hold middle managers equally responsible for driving up levels of employee engagement, just as it would be a mistake to not hold all employees responsible for keeping themselves engaged.  The fact that only 16% of those who report to CEOs agree that CEOs are the primary drivers of engagement suggests that lower-level leaders are more than ready to share the responsibility.

“People Leave Managers, Not Companies”…Up to a Point

I  have facilitated too many post-survey action planning sessions in which middle managers, after identifying the corrective steps they can and must take, come to the inevitable point where they say “we can only do so much.”  Some things, they correctly point out, only CEOs, their boards, and more senior leaders control and decide–things like clarification of company direction, overall staffing/workload levels, work/life policies, general pay/benefits, recognition budgets, and many other vital levers of employee engagement.  It’s up to those of us in HR-related roles to help them see the connections and trust us to advise them on the truest path to engaging leadership.

So, What Do You Think?

I welcome your responses to these questions:

  • Who truly influences levels of employee engagement more in your company–senior leaders or direct managers?
  • What actions should HR leaders take to help C-suite leaders sort out which employee engagement initiatives to take?

Diana: A Lesson in “Discretionary Effort”

23 Aug

The receptionist said: “You look lost.  Can I help you sir?”

I travel a lot for my work, and am often in foreign places where, in truth, I am lost. This was one of those days.

Lots of receptionists have seen the “gee-I-hope-I’m-in-the-right-place” look on the face of people they encounter. Some turn a blind eye to we directionally challenged people or, even worse, make us feel like we’re bothering them by asking for help. But on this particular occasion the receptionist, Diana, actually seemed concerned that I was lost.

“Thanks for asking. I’m supposed to be joining a meeting here, and I need to find my host”, I said.

To my surprise and delight Diana got up from behind her desk, smiled, and said: “The meeting is upstairs. Let me walk with you.”

As we were proceeding up the stairs she asked me where I was from and how long I would be in town. For an old road warrior like me such kindness is a true gift. As we neared the top of the stairs I saw my host. I thanked Diana and said goodbye, my day much the better for her efforts.

In our profession we talk a lot about “discretionary effort” as the critical outcome of a more engaged workplace. Here’s how a 2006 study conducted by The Conference Board describes employee engagement:

A heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager, or coworkers that in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.

That term “discretionary effort” is descriptive, but feels a bit clinical to folks. Diana was showing the behaviors of an engaged employee. That’s why encounters like I had with her can serve as a reminder of what employee engagement is all about. Diana made several choices (discretionary effort) in her interaction with me—getting up from behind the desk and walking with me up the stairs with me is beyond what I had expected from our exchange.

By the way, the meeting I was attending was part of the leadership development program for an organization that had me as a guest speaker talking about —you guessed it— employee engagement. The organization is doing a lot of great things in building a more engaged workplace. I told the group of my encounter with Diana. They were pleased to know that their efforts to build on great place to work are making a difference.

Most workplaces have these moments, these glimpses, of an engaged employee making a difference for a customer or client, who show their appreciation by coming back often and telling their friends—the payoff for the efforts in engaging employees. Those whom we profile In Re-Engage are better at creating an environment where they happen far more frequently.

How are you managing to those moments?

If you don’t like sheep poop…

12 Jul

At church this past Sunday our senior pastor, George Moore, gave a sermon about being a good shepherd. His messages are always terrific, but his words about being an effective shepherd (leader) really struck me.

We know the tasks of the shepherd– at church, home or work– are not always easy. A shepherd’s sheep often need help, need care, need support,  and need love. And George sees some people who have taken up this role as less than enthusiastic about many of those duties. In fact, he noted that there are some in shepherding roles today who don’t seem to even like sheep. He has some pretty blunt advice for them:

If you don’t like sheep poop, don’t become a shepherd!

In writing Re-Engage we ran into far too many employees who don’t feel like they have very good shepherds. They are often discounted, lied to, ignored, kept in the dark and often discarded on a whim. Here’s how one employee described her leader:

This organization views employees as fiscal liabilities to be limited as much as possible; until we are perceived as assets rather than liabilities, it will never be a great place to work.

There are, sadly, too many leaders who act as if they don’t really like working with employees. They don’t want to deal with employees who have wants, who have desires, or who have needs, because in their mind all that employee stuff can sometimes get, well, messy!

But here’s the part that poor shepherds don’t understand: not caring for and engaging employees saps their energy, splinters their morale, and eventually drives them away. Employees are hungry for great leadership, and when they experience it they will take longer commutes or less pay or turn down promotions to be part of a group that is shepherded well. Here’s an employee at a different company talk about the leadership where he works:

This company is a great place to work. If I have a problem, I feel confident going directly to one of the managing partners because I know they truly care. They know who I am and are always willing to help in any way.

It’s true, employee engagement can get messy. Here are a few of the additional “chores” our research indicates drives employee engagement:

  • Employees value more open and honest communication than every before.
  • They want leaders who have an idea of where to lead them, yet are open to feedback that might help make a needed course adjustment.
  • They’re hungry for opportunities to learn and grow in ways that use their talents to advance the interests of the enterprise.
  • They demand being part of a team that understands what they’re doing and leverages the respective strengths of each team member to put together a work product for which the team can be proud.
  • And when they succeed in adding true value to the organization they want to be recognized and rewarded, including a fair wage and benefits that meet their needs and the needs of their family.

Chores indeed. But according to every bit of research we’ve seen (and what my gut says anyway), investing in the engagement of employees, particularly in these difficult times, can make all the difference.

Thank you, George, for reminding me that shepherding can often be a challenging business, one that requires a little time and a bit of elbow grease applied in the right measure.  But I’m convinced the good shepherd will be rewarded.

Cowboys and Horsebits: A Lesson In Talent Management

15 Jun

In the early 1970’s my father hired Bev to join the sales team at our family clothing store in North Platte, a small town in west-central Nebraska. She took quickly to the job, learning the intricacies of selling everything from tailored Austin Reed suits to Nunn-Bush shoes. It became clear Bev had the ability to build good relationships with customers, get them to leave with a sack in their hands, come back often and talk up the store as the only place to shop-the outcomes every retailer craves.

To my father’s credit, he saw beyond Bev’s talent in sales. He learned that when she wasn’t working at the store she was often doing “cowgirl” stuff-riding horses and attending rodeos. As my dad got to know her a question came to mind-could he combine her interest in “western” activities with her gifts in retail?

The answer was a new store that sprouted across the street called “Circle A Ranchwear”, to which Bev was appointed the new manager. Because of her passion for the western lifestyle and talent in sales she quickly attracted customers to the new business, selling cowboy boots, western-wear clothing items, even specialized horse tackle.

For me, it’s a terrific example of getting people into roles where their talents, skills and interests can be best used in the workplace. From the 100,000+ survey comments we have read in the last few years, here are three from individuals who have clearly benefitted from their employer’s efforts to match their talents with the work at hand:

“This a great place to work, a place where an individual can utilize their talents and move freely amongst department to pursue their work interests and passions.”

“Our company really plays to the strengths of its employees; it rarely assigns someone to a task to which they are not suited. Once an employee shows their talent, they can be moved from day-to-day operations to development, or if an employee is showing signs of burn-out, a departmental move is soon to come.”

“Recently, my team was assigned their own set of clients to handle independently. From my perspective, it demonstrates the firm’s interest is recognizing and challenging each person’s ability and talent recognizing strengths and weaknesses.”

Can you imagine how much more productive organizations would be if more of their employees felt like this? Work then becomes a place where a person has the opportunity to utilize the best of who they are and, in doing so, help their employer succeed.

In the case of Bev, her reputation for outfitting cowboys and horses spread. One day she received a telephone call from a man from Utah who was looking for a specialized horse bit. He had been calling all over the United States, and numerous inquiries had finally led him to Bev. To his delight, she had the item in stock and was happy to help. The man sent her a check. Rather than cashing it, my dad decided to frame it. After all, it’s not every day a little store in the outback of Nebraska does business with the actor Robert Redford!

Whether it is casting a feature film or retail store, getting the right people in the right place can make all the difference.

Photo uploaded on Flickr by Alana Holmberg

Man’s Best Friend… Dog or Manager?

9 Jun

It’s been said that a dog is a man’s best friend, but this employee believes his supervisor isn’t a friend to man or beast:

“If my manager treated a dog the way he treats my teammates and me, he would get sued for cruelty.”

This employee works for a company whose overall employee engagement scores (as measured by the survey conducted by Quantum Workplace) is far from acceptable, and the company is suffering as a result. We are simply befuddled how companies continue to tolerate managers whose treatment of employees makes them feel this way. Unfortunately, many of us have had personal experience working for such managers. In fact, a recent Gallup survey reported that more than half of all U.S. workers would fire their bosses if they could.

The penalty employers pay for bad managers is poor customer care and loyalty, to which numerous studies clearly point. Among the verbatim comments in Quantum’s Best-Places-to-Work surveys we came across this nurse’s lament about how the “disease-ridden” culture at the hospital where she works is negatively affecting patient care:

“I have been a nurse for over 20 years and this is by far the worst hospital I have ever worked in.  Management does not treat employees with respect, nor do employees feel as if they are valued members of a team.  Managers are also unprofessional and condescending.  In addition, patient safety is often compromised and nothing is done to rectify the problems.”

Anyone interested in being admitted to that hospital? The same dynamic happens in every industry-disengaged employees simply don’t take care of customers the way engaged employees do, and the business suffers as a result.

Thankfully, supervisors don’t have to act in ways that create these feelings. For employees to be productive, they cannot be treated like yesterday’s garbage. If treated with respect, care, and consideration, most employees will respond in kind and offer even greater effort in their work and service to customers. Here’s a comment from another employee who works for a company recognized as a “Best Places to Work”, and talks quite differently about the relationship he has with his supervisor:

“My manager is really aware of our work load, and how difficult our work is. He is always there if we have a problem, and always willing to look at our work and help us figure out how to solve the problem. He really values our work, and makes sure that we know it.”

Wouldn’t you rather work for this manager? This kind of manager engenders loyalty and effort, which is even more important in these more challenging economic times. This is the kind of manager that employees point to and say, “There’s the one you want to work for.”

In writing Re-Engage we wanted to contrast the difference between effective and lousy managers. For those who make their employees feel like they’re being treated like rabid animals, maybe we should set up a companion organization to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in this case the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans”, where we could turn these disengaging supervisors in for citation and reassignment into a job where they can do no more harm. On a more serious note, we recommend reading Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human, in which we she reminds us that all animals, human and otherwise, have feelings that can be positively or negatively engaged, and respond very well to praise.

Photo originally uploaded on Flickr by Dan65

John Wooden, Thank You

5 Jun

Originally uploaded by ETSU Photos

John Wooden, a remarkable coach and even better man, died yesterday.

Nancy and I had the great pleasure of meeting him many years ago when he came to Lincoln, Nebraska. What immediately struck me, and sticks with me today, is what a gracious, humble man he was. He certainly had much to crow about (ten national basketball championships and winning streaks that will unlikely be matched), but to his core he stayed true to his values.

In his speech to talked about his famous “pyramid”. It is his guide to living an honorable, productive, meaningful life. If you’ve not read his memoir “They Call Me Coach”, which includes his discussion of the pyramid, I certainly recommend it. It’s an easy read into the mind of a great leader, worth it even if you’re not a big basketball fan.

Wooden was a quote and quip machine. If you Google him you can find a bunch. Here are some of my favorites:

Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.

Never mistake activity for achievement.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.

Peter Drucker once said that leadership is defined “by the presence of willing followers”. If that’s true (and I believe it is) John Wooden has to be defined as a great leader. To hear his former players such Bill Walton or Kareen Abdul Jabbar talk about him is inspiring. What’s so striking is the players talk much less about what Wooden taught them about the game of basketball, which given that he taught some of the game’s best players was significant. But to them his impact on their lives was much more about how to live off the basketball court. John Wooden taught them first to be good men who then became good basketball players.

Lest we think him a saint, he had his faults. He was occasionally mean-spirited, to the point of abusive, to opposing players. I credit him for identifying this fault and owning up to it in later years.

Great leaders should take a number of pages from his playbook:

  • He invested in knowing his players. He was involved in their personal lives. He truly cared, cared deeply, about them.
  • He built his teams around the talents of his players. He wasn’t afraid of changing the plays to fit the strengths of who was on his team at the time.
  • He showed them to be fierce competitors who were humble winners and gracious losers.
  • He held them to a strict set of rules when it came to manners and appearance and comportment.
  • He never pushed his personal faith on others, but was an example to them of what his faith called him to be.
  • He prepared them to be successful not just in their sport but for the rest of their lives.

Thank you, Coach Wooden. You have touched so many.

The Magic Elixir of Innovation

2 Jun

New products and services are coming into the market in an increasingly faster rate. In every business segment companies must find ways to provide new, innovative approaches to meet the needs of a demanding customer base.

We often think of innovation as something done in a laboratory, where scientists toil to create a new and better widget, or perhaps a new elixir to cure all that ails us. This kind of innovation is certainly important, but is the “mad scientist” laboratory the only source of innovation?

In the course of studying companies that have been consistently seen as “Best-Places-to-Work” we’ve found another way to foster innovation: create a highly engaged workplace. In these environments much innovation comes from everyday workers who see an opportunity to do something better, to serve a customer more effectively, or to streamline a clunky process. In poring over comments of both high and low-scoring companies in the thousands of employee engagement surveys we analyzed, we came across several that reveal   how companies have built cultures that  support innovation. The first comment speaks about how the company has encouraged employees to offer their own ideas:

“Innovation is openly appreciated and genuinely valued; any individual in the company may provide their own ideas and, if viable, they are truly leveraged.”

Innovation can’t happen when employees don’t feel empowered. One employee remarks:

“I believe that allowing employees the freedom to manage their lives and work on their own time is the most important part of creating a productive environment. Also, giving everyone the freedom to express their opinions about company decisions gives us all a feeling of ownership and pride, and helps perpetuate constant innovation that makes everyone feel as if we are always moving forward.”

The following comment is from an employee who sees transparency in communication as a factor that supports the culture:

“They set the stage for innovation and welcome progressive thinking. They think outside the box and welcome new ideas.  They also have regular updates on new business and the current environment and give us the information that we need to know–that things are tough out there, but they have a commitment to the people that are working here now.    They have launched a program for employees to give new ideas to senior management directly.”

Finally, one employee reveals how customers react:

“It is a pleasure to be with a company so driven by innovation.  I leave meetings with clients and they are blown away with our capabilities that we have introduced to them.  I report to smart, warm professionals who are well respected.  Nice work if you can get it.”

Indeed, nice work if you can get it. Sadly, many employers have not created the kind of engaging cultures these employees have described. They work in environments where creativity is, even unwittingly, drown out.

“There is a very negative atmosphere in my department and the managers are not responding to employee feedback. Employees do not feel valued or appreciated. They are overworked and underpaid and feel they have no say in how to make improvements within the department. Numerous people have gone to HR and top leadership, but there have not been any positive changes.”

Can you imagine anything innovative coming out of this work group? Not likely. Or this workplace:

“Our services and support departments tend to be major speed bumps to innovation and general ‘getting-s&!t-done-ingness’.  If the resources are stretched as thin as we hear whenever a new feature or old bug is brought up, that needs to be where we’re focusing our spending.”

We’re not suggesting that innovative ideas can’t come from workplaces that are disengaged. They do. But we can’t imagine creative ideas flow as frequently and consistently in an environment where an employee is worried about, and we’re quoting here, “getting-s&!t-done-ingness”. We’ll give the edge to the workplaces that encourage open and honest communication, actively ask for a receive feedback from all employees, and create environments where good ideas are rewarded with other opportunities. That’s an elixir that will bring results.

Want to be more innovative? Engage, and re-engage, your employees.

We invite your comments!

(Photo from Flickr by bframe5)

Mutiny At Work

25 May

A former colleague of mine was consulting with a small business owner, Jerry, who was having problems engaging and retaining staff. Because of his missteps, the business was suffering. Although his intentions were good and his desire to become a more effective leader was sincere, Jerry had difficulty turning those intentions into results.

Our survey and interviews of the staff were quite clear-they we’re not happy with how they were being managed by Jerry and were about ready to launch into their rendition of The Caine Mutiny. As my colleague was reviewing the results with Jerry he stopped, took a deep breath, and said: “Jerry, it looks to me like your staff has fired you as their manager”.

Jerry considered the remark calmly and replied: “Chuck, I hate to say this, but I think you’re right. What should I do?”

“Jerry, you reapply!”

Jerry laughed, taking Chuck’s comment in the spirit in which it had been intended, which was giving him the medicine in a pill he could swallow.

Indeed, Jerry did reapply to be the manager of his employees, and with a new attitude and hard work he is a much better leader, which has resulted in more success with a more engaged, productive staff.

In our consulting work and research for Re-Engage, we’ve run across a gaggle of managers who, often unbeknownst to them, have been fired by their employees as their leader and desperately need to reapply for the job. They’ve turned their staff into a group:

  • who is thinking more about punching a clock than being productive,
  • who feel indifference instead of a genuine desire to offer great customer service, and
  • choose mutiny versus loyalty to the firm.

Want to hear how an employee sounds when they’ve fired their manager? Let’s listen in to one exceptionally disengaged employee, here quoted word-for-word from Best-Place-to-Work survey comments:

“I haven’t been here quite a year yet, but after a few months in my department, it became very clear to me that most people in my position or a similar position were very unhappy with how they felt they were being treated. Most employees feel unappreciated and overworked. New management has exacerbated this issue, and now people are so unhappy that they just do not care. So now no one feels the need to help anyone else with anything–go that extra mile. There’s no team, because there’s no team leadership. There have been several situations that were extremely mishandled due to bad management. Our manager has actually told people that she would rather turn a blind eye and ‘hope things get better’ on their own so that she wouldn’t ‘have to deal with it.’ Too bad, I thought that was her job. I have gone to her on a particular issue more than twice, and every time she assures me that she will take care of it and nothing is done. It’s very sad here.”

Whether she realizes it or not, her employees have given this poor manager the proverbial pink slip.  Contrast that comment with these comments from employees who feel very different about the person they call manager:

“My manager trusts me as an employee to do the right thing, which gives me more time to focus on my goals at work.   I have a very flexible schedule that helps me assist customers on a daily basis. I have control over the hours that I work to be more productive at work.”

“I feel extremely valued at my workplace; my manager goes over the profit and loss statement with us so we can all see how we can contribute to the success of the branch.  My manager answers and explains everything in detail no matter what question is being asked.  I feel my manager values each and every team member and shows everyone respect for the jobs that we do.  He always has time for us and helps out with anything no matter what it is.  He cares about the development of each crewmember and wants each of us to succeed.”

In Re-Engage we describe seven key bad practices that leaders do that disengage employees, and offer better practices that can help leaders be more effective in engaging, and re-engaging, their teams. It’s abundantly clear that not all employers we’ve studied are putting them into practice.

Has one or more of your employees fired you or someone you know as their manager? Maybe it’s time to reapply.

Image originally uploaded to Flickr by Osvaldo_Zoom