Most people are familiar with the poem All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten.  The poem talks about sharing, being fair, playing nice with others, cleaning up after yourself, and kindness. As I reflect upon my dissertation, and the studies we have conducted in our work on Meaning-Centered Leadership, the same actually holds true in business.  Everything you need to know in leading your team, you learned as a child.

Engagement, Empowerment, and Expertise

Meaning-Centered Leadership focuses on Engagement, Empowerment, and Expertise – setting up a workplace environment that focuses on how to create meaning in your organization to lead to increased profitability.  As the Gallup poll studies have stated, nearly 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace.  As we know, disengagement leads to lower happiness. Lower happiness leads to decreased productivity.  And, of course, decreased productivity leads to lower profitability for the organization.

What can you do to engage employees?

So now the big question: How can we better engage our employees?  Research has shown the steps are actually quite logical and simple to instill.  In fact, Tom Peters focused on these developments through his research in the 1980s, leading to his book In Search of Excellence.  Listen to this great podcast by Mark C. Crowley to learn more about Tom Peters’ work.  The information is known and has been discussed by numerous authors following Tom Peters, yet today businesses still struggle to engage employees their employees, resulting in high levels of disengagement.

How can you ensure your employees are engaged and therefore happier and more productive?   Think back to what you learned growing up – what your parents and your teachers tried to instill in your behaviors.  Talk to your employees. Be kind. Be authentic. Get personal. Know (and acknowledge) their birthday. Ask about their family, children, spouse, partners, etc.  Reward employee success. Celebrate small wins. Basically, just be a good human – be kind, be a good friend, and show others showing you care.

Create a Meaning-Centered Leadership Approach

Again, think back to what you learned in kindergarten and all through your childhood.  Practices of kindness can go so far in business! As Tim McGraw says so eloquently in his song Humble and Kind –  Hold the door. Say please. Say thank you.  Don’t steal. Don’t cheat and don’t lie. Always stay humble and kind.  These words make just as much sense in business and you will find that by doing so, your employee engagement will rise!