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Why do I need to think about engaging my employees?

Posted on LinkedIn by Shari Pheasant October 10, 2016

Look around you. Are your employees Engaged? Can you feel the enthusiasm of your team when you walk through the door? Are they confident and empowered to bring new ideas forth and take an active role? Do you inspire them?

What is the Big Picture at your business? And does every employee know it, own it and live it? Do you set them up for success every day? Or do you hold them back? And in that, do you hold back the business as well, and you don't even know it?

Do you "see" the Big Picture? Since people do business with people, let's begin there today. Let's start with your employees, co-workers and peers. What do you see when you look at them, better yet, can you see "inside" them? What is happening "behind the scenes", "under the radar" or beneath the surface (like in the ocean, a calm surface can be hiding a tumultuous undercurrent that can cause death).

When you find an undercurrent, do you act like an ostrich, and hide your head in the sand until it goes away? Play the denial game? I mean, if you wait long enough, everything settles down right? Do you avoid it or bury it? Or do you face it, talk about it and seek a resolution that works for the consensus? 

Whew! That is a lot of questions!

But it all matters! The answers to the above questions can uncover some interesting facts within a company's culture (work environment). Here is our "real moment" for you to consider: Employees Know, whether you accept that they know or not. They have an acute ability to know when you are avoiding things, especially when a pattern establishes itself to them. Employees instinctually understand avoidance, deflection, and denial, although they may never say it out loud. It does affect their choices in the long run and how they behave every day while at work. And it has a huge impact on your work environment ("Company Culture"). Think about it, how do you feel when you can not resolve something troubling you, or when you feel you do not have a voice or any control of a situation?

I know, many of you, reading this might be saying: "My employees love working for me! I help them through a lot of things they couldn't get done without me. I listen. They always ask me about how best to do things. Gosh, sometimes, I think, if I wasn't there, they wouldn't know what to do without me." If this is the case (or you are saying something similar), I caution you to take another look. One of the prevalent situations that exist in small business today is "Answering with Absolutely".

What is "Answering with Absolutely"? It happens when a boss/owner/manager have a strong personality/behavior style and they tend to keep their hands on everything around them, "helping everyone". This person spends every day finding ways and things to correct, nudge or rectify for their team. They PUSH through situations and rarely seem to listen to anything outside of their own ideas. They also tend to avoid talking about disagreements or issues once they have shown you their answer (because they hate conflict). Whether they are telling you "how they would have handled something", "how to do it a bit different for more success" or correcting you and "shaking their head as if they just don't understand your actions", it is apparent; they are usually stuck on "their ideas and solutions". These actions, when continuous can break down the empowerment of a team, in just weeks.

Once the empowerment is broken, "Answering with Absolutely" comes into play. Employees in this environment begin to feel they can never make the right choice, according to their boss. Add to it that what their boss wants changes day to day and they (the employees) feel like they can never get it quite right. In order to avoid conflict, they begin not making choices and waiting for their boss to tell them exactly what makes him/her happy today, at this moment.

The employees have begun to feel like it doesn't matter what choice they make, it will not be right, so "WHY CHOOSE?". When you ask them is everything ok, they say: "Absolutely"; Do you like working here? "Absolutely"; Am I a good boss? "Absolutely"! Are your employees in constant agreement with you? Really? I challenge you to dig a bit deeper. What you might not hear is the SILENT "NOT" following each "Absolutely".

Now, look around again. What do you see and feel? Do employees, and co-workers feel like they are inspired, enthusiastic, empowered and confident? Do they openly share their ideas? Better yet, do you activate their ideas as solutions in your business? Can you "see" and "feel" an inspired attitude around you? Does the energy at your business have a life of it's own? How does it "FEEL"? I do not want to know what you "think" with your head. I want to know what you "feel".

A "Caring Manager" is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. Employees want their managers to care about them as people, not to treat them like tools in the business. That means you need to take the time to inspire and empower them to be a part of the big picture. They need to feel enthusiastic about coming to work each day and be confident they have a valued role on the team.

The first step to becoming a caring manager is to practice looking at your team with your heart, instead of your head. Don't get me wrong, I want you to still use your head to run your business, but I want it to filter through your heart in some business aspects, like employee engagement. Company Culture is measurable and you can link it to KPI's and margins in your business.

And WHY do you need to do this? Because employee engagement is the ultimate profit driver and customer satisfaction is directly linked to the level of engagement your team exhibits. The success in your business and in life are directly affected by those around you. And a better business comes when your team is empowered, inspired and engaged. Enthusiastic and confident employees bring energy and vigor to your team and you will all achieve much greater results working together! Remember, you do not need to provide all the answers to be a great leader. You need to seek the answers that make sense from your team. And it doesn't matter how smart you are, you will NEVER have all the answers!

Aspire to greatness, I know you have it in you!

Shari Pheasant