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It’s a typical Thursday night, but you have two no-call/no-shows, service is slow, customers are agitated, and all you can do is watch as sales begin to slip away. Tonight may be a lost cause, but as the manager, you have to set a plan to prevent this from happening again.
The question to ask yourself is: Are my employees engaged in their work? If you’ve experienced the above scenario, the answer is a resounding “no,” and you should be concerned. Employee engagement has a direct impact on customer service, productivity, turnover, and morale—all of which eventually hurt your bottom line.
Many unengaged employees suffer from what leadership expert Patrick Lencioni refers to as “job misery.” This condition kills morale and productivity and drives up the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees. But the good news is “job misery” is treatable.
What causes job misery?
According to Lencioni, anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement all lead to a feeling of misery at work. Anonymity is the feeling that managers have little interest in their employees as individuals. Irrelevance can take hold when an employee can’t see how his job makes a difference in the lives of others—a customer, a coworker, or even a supervisor. The third cause is something Lencioni refers to as immeasurement, the inability of employees to evaluate their own success.
Managers hold the key.
“The primary source of job misery and the potential cure for that misery resides in the hands of one individual—the direct manager,” says Lencioni. “There are countless studies confirming this statement.” Organizations such as Gallup and The Blanchard Companies have found that an employee’s relationship with his direct manager is the most important determinant to employee satisfaction—more than pay, benefits, perks, and even work-life balance.
Motivate and retain.
“As simple as the three causes are in theory, the fact remains that few managers take a genuine interest in their people, remind them of the impact that their work has on others, and help them establish creative ways to measure and assess their performance,” says Lencioni. “Managers often forget what it was like when they were a little lower on the food chain and need to remember that the most important part of their jobs is providing their people with what they need to be productive and fulfilled (a.k.a. not miserable) in their jobs.”
The good news.
According to the CEB Corporate Leadership Council (CLC), engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organization,* reducing turnover and creating a more stable and experienced workforce. These individuals also help attract other quality employees. They show more attention to detail, take pride in their work, and are more willing to help out in areas outside of their own responsibility.
Take the first step.
In their analysis of effective engagement strategies, the CLC notes that the first step to developing an engaged and high-performing workforce is recruitment. Lencioni believes the best recruits have a combination of three virtues: humility, hunger, and people smarts. He refers to these individuals as “ideal team players” and has developed targeted strategies to help identify these recruits during the interview process.
Before your next talent search, get Lencioni’s free interview guide, “Reduce Turnover Through Effective Hiring”. It contains thoughtful interview questions and offers insights and strategies to help you identify the right employee for your next hire.
Patrick Lencioni is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker, consultant, and founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping organizations become healthy. Lencioni’s books blend innovative storytelling, vibrant characters, and clear-sighted practical solutions to address the most sensitive and important pain points of today’s organizations: how to build successful teams, improve leadership, break down silos, engage employees, and ensure the health of the organization as a whole. Chick-fil-A, The Cheesecake Factory, In-N-Out Burger, Sonic, and Yum! Brands, among others, have brought Patrick’s unique perspective on leadership and teamwork to their organizations.
*Source: Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement. Rep. Washington, DC: Corporate Leadership Council, 2004. Print.