A good company is a hyper-agile rocketship. A great company is a unicorn. Attention spans are fleeting, markets are saturated, customers have more allegiance to peer reviews than to brands. AND, on top of churning out profits, companies are supposed to save the world.
Millennials are now the largest part of the workforce. Many are also managers. This creates a seismic shift in workplace expectations. Millennials want to go to work and connect to purpose, have growth and want it all to happen fast, or they’re on to the next job.
The robots are coming and it’s putting pressure on people to move up the value chain. The Automatic Bank Machine (ABM) didn’t get rid of bank tellers. It freed up their time to do work that is uniquely human: sales and service. And that evolution is happening in every industry. The new differentiators are creativity and customer experience.
For every ten people in your company, only three people are trying. Five are showing up to collect a paycheck. Two are so pissed off that they’re sabotaging your organization by bringing morale down, bad mouthing you on Glassdoor and telling their family, friends, and coworkers how backward it is to work at your organization. Despite all the rhetoric that engagement is a top priority, these ratios haven’t changed in decades.
Here’s something you don’t hear enough. As a manager, you’re the most important asset to your company’s success. That’s because 70% of the variance in employee engagement in an organization is down to the manager. Not pay, or perks, or job function. Not bean bag chairs or cappuccino machines.
Let’s say that again.
OK, deep breath. Your company has stacked the odds against you. Nothing that can’t be overcome, but it’s good to start by knowing your obstacles.
Traditionally, investments in employee morale and performance have been owned by HR. But, employee-engagement surveys and performance management suites haven’t actually improved employee engagement or performance because they’re all tackling the wrong problem.
The investment needs to be made at the manager-to-employee level. It’s the unique manager-and-employee relationship (remember: 70%) that impacts engagement, not the universal tactics spread across the entire organization.
Ever eavesdropped on conversations while waiting in the coffee shop line? What’s amazing is how much people are bitching. How much of that do you think is being brought to your attention?
The iceberg of ignorance shows that the higher up the org you get, the fewer of the problems known to front-line employees are known to you.
It’s not your fault. Most managers are undertrained when it comes to people management (if you were lucky to get any training). You rocked your job when you only had to manage yourself. You rocked it so well your company said, “We want you to create a team of five yous. Go.”
But managing people can be hard. Making other people awesome is a different instruction manual than the one that made you awesome. But we’re pretty sure no one’s given you the new instruction manual. You’re on your own friend. Sorry.
Turning around engagement on your team isn’t going to be a walk in the park. But it isn’t rocket science.
That’s it. Let’s break it down:
Remember – you’re the biggest factor affecting employee motivation. And to take care of this, you can’t just pay lip service once a year during performance reviews. You need ongoing conversations, day-to-day, week by week, in the trenches, where the work gets done. But it can’t eat up all of your time.
You can’t deal with or fix what you don’t know.
Let’s say a new initiative gets rolled out and it doesn’t make sense to your team. If you ask and engage, you can answer their questions and address their issues.
Or let’s say someone on your team has been thinking about a career change, but they don’t believe they can do it within your organization. Prompting a conversation about their career plans allows you to address it.
Some of these conversations are tough. It takes real skill to get people to open up.
Being vulnerable helps, as does thinking ahead, planning and doing research in advance. So don’t go into these conversations blind. Instead, set up an agenda, seek out advice from other modern managers, or look up some best practices.
SoapBox takes the regular conversations you’re already having in one-on-ones and team-meetings and transforms them into a dialogue that will boost the morale and performance of your team.
But enough about what we think. Here’s what our customers say:
“I just invited another one of my employees to SoapBox for our most recent one-on-one and they told me it was the most organized and productive meeting we’ve ever had!”
“I like the fact that the agenda for the weekly meeting is sort of a growing/evolving thing. We add topics during the week as they pop up and sometimes that even allows the other people to give a quick reply right then so there’s no need to bring it up at the meeting. Other times it gives us time to research an answer before the meeting.”