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“Me First!” You expect to hear this in kindergarten, but not in corporate America. After all, shouldn’t adults know how to play fair, share willingly, and cooperate? Unfortunately, with employee engagement at all-time lows, many leaders find themselves increasingly confronted with demoralized, unhappy, or even outright-hostile employees. Energy levels plummet. Productivity suffers. Teamwork deteriorates. People look out for themselves first and foremost. And, just like frustrated parents, leaders often respond by “getting tough” – demanding more collaboration, greater commitment, and increased effort.
We recently blogged about the importance of spending time with your direct reports. While research suggests that six hours a week spent interacting with your employees may be the “magic number” for increasing engagement, we believe the issue isn’t just about quantity – it’s also about quality. For example, when you’re talking with your employees or team members – in person or on the phone – what do you discuss beyond work priorities and deadlines? If the answer is “nothing,” you may be missing a valuable opportunity.
Have you talked with with your employees today? Not e-mailed, not texted – but actually had a real-time face-to-face conversation with any of your direct reports? If the answer is “no,” you’re not alone. Demanding travel schedules, telecommuting, and increased responsibilities – not to mention the global nature of many businesses – make it hard for leaders to personally connect with their team members on a frequent basis. But if you find yourself regularly out of communication for days – or even weeks – at a time, keeping your employees motivated and engaged can become a real challenge.
You may have already heard the recent news that, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Study, 62 percent of employees are “not engaged” at work. These individuals aren’t outwardly hostile, disruptive or unproductive like their “actively disengaged” peers. They usually show up and do what they’re told. Yet, while their managers and co-workers may like them, they probably don’t trust them to go the extra mile. To have the emotional commitment and self-motivation to move from competent to excellent. And that lack of trust can keep your organization from achieving its fullest potential.