Friday, June 21, 2013

Reframing Leadership, Transformation, and Engagement

 A leader’s personal development and transformation is important, yes, in terms of human growth and what that enables us to do, but it’s not what will bring on organizational success.

YOUR transformation, leader, is not why you were hired.  The organizational aim and mission is the reason, isn’t it?  You are supposed to be able to guide delivery of that mission.

So, what if leaders focused on reframing their sense of employees in the context of organizational missions? [I know that very often gets done, but this is a reminder of where our attention and framing might belong—not on ourselves but on the people who are making the organization go everyday.

It encourages us to reframe who employees are in our organizations, what they bring and what they are being managed/allowed to offer to the organization in service of the mission. This lies at the heart of employee engagement and engagement lies at the heart of organizational mission delivery.

Gallup has done a great job over the years of tracking employee engagement.

According to Gallup’s latest 2013 statistics, nationwide, 30% of employees are Engaged, similar to the 28% who were in 2009. Meanwhile, nearly one in five (18%) workers are Actively Disengaged," while the majority are simply Not Engaged. This is not auspicious for high-energy, connected mission delivery. []

I’m not going to offer any data in terms of proven statistics. The following reflects my experience in 20+ years of working in all kinds of organizations, from religious institutions to international development organizations to some of the world’s largest companies:

95%: Ninety-five percent of anyone who will ever work for or with you very much wants to do a good job.  It’s part of our human makeup. Sometimes the organization is designed for that to be easy, and sometimes it’s not all that easy to perform well in a system. The engagement or disengagement of this group depends almost entirely on how they are treated: how they are managed, included, asked to contribute their strengths, listened to around ideas and involved in the direction the organization is taking, especially around their particular areas. This group is a gold mine, if they are recognized as such and treated that way. Leaders should be asking themselves: What is getting in the way of the performance that people naturally want to offer?

2+%: Another 2+% are in the wrong positions in the organization so can’t and don’t perform well.  Some of them used to be in the right position for them, but perhaps they have outgrown it or the position has gradually changed over time, so that it is no longer a fit. This group should not present such a big management issue.  The organizational structure should help them get into the right roles or help them leave without punishment.]

2+%: The last small percentage of employees is in some sort of trouble that keeps them from doing a good job and may even create disturbance in the organizational system. Maybe they are ill or addicted, dealing with enormous family or emotional issues, or wounded by something that has happened to them. They can create havoc.  This is where leaders, and the Human Resources staff, seem to spend most of their employee time.

Organizations tend to set up their policies and structures for this last 2% group. They manage the entire employee base as if they are potential criminals or slackers or difficult to deal with.

EVERYTHING depends on what perspective the leadership [and the organizational system] has about the staff.  Either you see the people who come in the door everyday as incredible assets with a strong desire to contribute, or…you see them as some sort of problem to be solved—entitled, lazy, dishonest, disengaged. And when you treat employees that way, they become disengaged, and eventually, so do you.

Here’s another example of the importance of being able to reframe reality, to look from a different vantage point, to study different statistics and see what they tell us.

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