The last article noted that extensive research – involving more than 17 million employees – had been done by the Gallup organization on what they called employee engagement. They estimated that not engaging employees cost US businesses some $300 billion in lost productivity.
As we all know, studies are worthless unless they result in some kind of action. Let us talk about some actions.
Previously, we suggested that leadership’s attitude had to be ready to embrace this idea – had to be willing to learn. Assuming that step has been acquired, let us move on.
Step two is the most beneficial, simplest, and most resisted. It is listening – really listening. That sounds so trite and unsophisticated that too many leaders don’t take it seriously. Add to that the number of ineffective practices used by organizations to gather information, and it explains gallop’s setting a $300 billion loss.
First, leadership at every level must be sincerely focused on the workers’ observations, opinions, and recommendations. Put aside what you think. If they believe a pole is a tree, it is a tree to them.
Second, the approach needs to be simple. Start with a simple questionnaire. Ask four questions:
1. What do you like about the organization (business, operation, way we work, whatever) that you would like to see continued?
2.what do you not like about the organization (etc.), that you would like to see changed?
3. What do you like about me (could be the CEO, supervisors, etc.), and that you would like not changed?
4. What do you not like about me (CEO, supervisors, etc.) and/or the way I operate, and that you would like to see changed?
Be sure that anonymity is protected. The ultimate goal is that eventually each individual would feel comfortable about sharing answers to these questions with you. An important note here: even if you believe there is excellent rapport and opportunity for worker input, the first time do the four questions under a system that assures anonymity. You may be surprised at the information provided.
If done correctly, this little exercise will provide: (1) succinct information that highlights the very best and the very worst – an excellent place to begin; (2) the belief, or the beginning of a belief by the worker, that his/her opinion counts; (3) greater worker support and effort.
Yes, you can think of many reasons to throw this out and continue as usual. Of course, that may be a red flag about you or the organization. Just do it.