Recently one of my clients, a leader of his own company, saw that one of his teams was not as enthusiastic as they used to be about their work and things were starting to slack. The team’s manager just shrugged and said they were a lazy bunch. That’s when my client called me in to help.
A recent survey sheds some light on employee dissatisfaction: 69 percent of the people surveyed said they would be more satisfied if their employers better utilized their skills and abilities, and 59 percent felt their company viewed profits or revenue as more important than how people are treated.
What this survey illustrates so profoundly—and what I’ve found to be true with my client’s team and in other companies I work with—is that people most often lose their passion for work because of how they are treated.
Here are the suggestions I made to my client:
Cut back on bureaucracy. Sometimes people lose enthusiasm because they’re so caught up in processes and procedures that feel like they spend their days just feeding the bureaucracy. When you can free them from unnecessary tracking and authorizations, they have the time and energy to connect with the work you hired them to do. Let them know they can lead where they are, with maximum empowerment and minimal red tape.
Treat everyone as an owner. When you get rid of bureaucracy, you have to replace it with something—and the ideal solution is an entrepreneurial culture, a workplace where people feel they have a say in what is happening now as well as future directions. Get people to start feeling and thinking like owners. Many of my client’s managers objected to this suggestion—they had a lot of investment in the bureaucratic model—but he moved forward anyway. He held a town hall meeting and told each of his employees how important they were to him and that from that point on they should think of themselves as owners. “If you were running this business, what would you do, what ideas would you have?” he asked them—and then let him know that he genuinely wanted to hear their answers.
Make information fully transparent. One of the biggest complaints employees have is being in the dark with decisions being made behind closed doors. If you expect people to act like owners, they need full access to information, with a clear understanding of the big picture, strategic goals, changes of direction, and what’s going on in the minds of management. They need to be brought to the table for input and be included in important conversations; they need to be invited into meetings and decision-making discussions.
Let their voices be counted. It’s one thing to say you can drive and make decisions, but it’s another to listen and hear what someone has to say. Great leaders should always grant people a place to express themselves, a way for their voices to be heard and their questions to be asked, and then—this is the tough part—seriously address the issues that they bring up. When you allow people’s voices to count, you increase trust and bring back enthusiasm and drive.
Follow their lead. If a team member comes up with a great new idea, get behind it and help them find the right people with the right skills to make it happen. Guide them and assist them when they need it but let them lead their own initiative. They’ll learn planning, delegation and management, and you’ll have a more valuable employee.
Reward effort as well as progress. Everyone wants to be recognized for the work they do. It doesn’t matter what step of the ladder they’re on. As leaders and owners, we sometimes forget to acknowledge the hard work and the long hours, but those are things we should never take for granted.
Many managers feel threatened by an entrepreneurial culture because they feel their authority has been limited. But leaders with the courage to take the leap soon learn that the more you empower your people the more powerful things can happen.
Lead from within: Fearful managers restrict power; bold leaders empower people whenever they can.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.