In our work with current and prospective clients around engagement, the discussion will typically start with a question: “How do we get our employees …”.
You may have heard the saying: "People don't leave organizations, they leave people.” (In particular, their direct manager.). A lot of work has been done to try to "fix" managers. I am not suggesting that developing managers is a bad thing, in fact it is imperative that managers continue to learn and grow to become the type of leaders everyone wants to follow. However, when speaking about engaging employees, the burden has fallen again on the shoulders of managers which I would argue is not only unfair, but is also doomed to fail or get little traction. A manager’s role in engagement is to create the conditions in which employees’ needs (including their own), can be met through mutual accountability.
Engagement and the culture of the organization is as much the responsibility of the employee as it is for their leaders. Otherwise the organization is setting itself up to have employees with entitlement issues, constantly waiting for their managers to make them feel better or to give them what they need. Managers are people just like anyone else. They wake up in the morning with the best intentions in the world to support and recognize their people, and to ensure the organization is successful. But they are human—not mind readers. From Juice's research on engagement, we have created a short-cut to understanding engagement from both a rational, and an emotional level, through 5 statements:
I Fit. I'm Clear. I'm Supported. I'm Valued. I'm Inspired.
The degree to which an employee can make these 5 statements with emphasis will uncover how engaged and energized they are, and directly relates to the amount of discretionary effort and energy they can offer to the organization. These are not simply "employee" statements; they apply from the janitor up to the CEO, and typically a manager (unless highly tuned-in and skilled in the art of leadership) will not distinguish which of these are most important to their direct reports. Nor will they recognize what their employee is lacking or needing in order to assist them in moving towards higher levels of engagement.
The manager needs to create the conditions and develop the skills where:
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