Gallup reports that only 33% of the 100 million people in the American workforce are engaged at work, loving their jobs and their organization. Conversely, 16% of the workforce is actively disengaged, miserable and poisoning their cultures. The remaining 51% are not engaged – they just show up. This means that 67% of your workforce is disengaged.
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Traditional leadership styles, benefits packages, and training initiatives clearly are not working. The old command-and-control style of leadership is not only ineffective but not respected by millennials who represent the largest sector in the workforce today. Productive and engaged work cultures are switching from power struggles to coaching conversations. They realize purpose and flexibility trump paychecks and perks. They take less stock in annual employee engagement surveys and have monthly check-in coaching conversations for development. And they make sure their employees know the company is interested in their development, building their self-awareness and helping them understand how to best use their strengths.
With 51% of U.S. employees actively looking for a new job or watching for openings there is no time to waste in developing your team. Leaders must develop and live a healthy cultural brand, maintain a safe environment for crucial conversations, listen to their constituents and be ready to switch gears immediately. They must be flexible and know how to engage workers across multiple teams and locations.
If we don’t adjust our work environments to the career needs of our constituents, they will leave. Lack of career growth opportunities is the leading reason for employees exiting a job, with pay and benefits, management, culture and job fit trailing behind.
Show your employees, especially high performers, how you are personally interested in their development.
1. Meet with the Employee to Determine a Leadership Purpose
Tell them you are actively interested in their professional development. Mine for what they love to do and how past challenges have shaped them. Ask key questions about what they value and in an ideal world, where do they see themselves a year from now. What project would interest them that they’d develop if they had the time. Talk with them about how they have learned new things in the past and ask how they’d like to learn new things here. Tell them what you observe regarding their style, work ethic, motivation, relationship skills, critical thinking. Help them define their personal purpose and how their values align with the organizations.
2. Draft a declarative ‘Leadership Impact Statement.’
This is their goal – how they want to lead and the difference they will make over the next year. You will guide them to reference this statement when they are unclear or not focused.
3. Coach them to explain how they will organize, communicate and plan their work to achieve their purpose
Ask them to explain why this is their purpose and what is unique to them.
4. Jump to the future
Ask them to describe what will be happening in one year when their “Impact” becomes reality. What does that look and feel like?
5. What are the critical next steps, milestones and who needs to be involved?
Help to open doors for them to be exposed to growth opportunities. Is education or shadowing needed? What would success look like in six months if they were on track to get to their goal? What metric can you set up to be measured each month to get there?
6. Who will they help to develop?
Pay it forward. Celebrate success with all who helped in their development. Who would THEY like to help develop and how will that help the overall mission of your organization? Ask them to give feedback to you on what worked and what could be improved.
As a leader you are in a position to shape talent or allow it to go flat. Be creative! Put the energy back in your team. If you like these tips, here’s a link to my new FREE eBook – 31 Executive Presence Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World.
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