Have you ever calculated the loss of productivity, and as a result, profitability, due to low engagement within your organization? In the new book from Gallup, It’s the Manager, by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, it is estimated that the United States is losing at least $960 billion and perhaps as much as $1.2 trillion per year due to low levels of engagement (p. 77). If you’ve been monitoring the disengagement level over the past few decades, this certainly should come as no surprise. Disengagement leads to unhappy employees. Unhappy employees leads to lower productivity. Lower productivity leads to lower revenues… and the cycle continues.
Today, more than ever, it is vital that you instill meaning-centered leadership into your organization. The number one finding, and the first E in the 3Es of the meaning-centered leadership model, is just that – Engagement! This cannot be stressed enough. In fact, another great statistic in this book is that “managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement” (p. 105). So how do your managers rank? Are you asking yourself and your employees about their managers? Do your employees trust your managers? Engagement is established when there is a high level of trust between employees and management. Trust is the number one element of engagement. In fact, without trust, engagement significantly declines. Once trust is severed, it can be very difficult to reestablish. Ask yourself, have you ever worked for someone you didn’t trust?
Another important factor to engagement is care and concern. Do your managers care about the people they lead? Is that care authentic? Managers must also show care and concern to engage with team members. It is through this care and concern that the relationships are strengthened. When a manager shows that he/she really cares about others, the commitment from your employees significantly increases. If you are a leader today, ask yourself how deeply you are to caring for your team members. Do you know their stories? Do you connect with them on a regular basis? The ways to increase care and concern can be as simple as taking a few minutes a day to connect with others on a personal level, not just about work, but about life.
And finally, the third way to increase engagement and relationships with others is through open communication and active listening. When you say you have an ‘open door policy’, mean it! Allow your team members to come in, whether to chat or to discuss something vital about the organization. A few minutes of active listening can take you miles on the engagement spectrum.
The bottom line is to really take stock in the engagement levels of your employees. Look at the three elements of engagement – trust, care and concern, and open communication – to ensure you are connecting with and providing support to your team members. Ask those crucial questions and have authentic conversations to assess your team’s level of engagement. Imagine how your organization would look with increased engagement!