Hollow are the words from leaders, managers and supervisors who say that their employees are their greatest assets, yet proceed to operate as if their employees are unable to comprehend the business or worse yet don’t exist.  

We once consulted with an organization that was struggling due to low morale and high turnover.  We met with the leadership team and they told us that they were baffled that the staff was so unhappy since they prided themselves in being “employee friendly;” they let their people wear jeans, decorate their cubicles, and they went out drinking with them around the holidays.

The leaders of this organization were well intended, but they had no idea how to manage people.  Espousing a casual culture is not the same as leading and managing people and unfortunately, they treated their employees as though they were hostile to the success of the business.  We worked with the leadership team and taught them how to lead and manage people; we helped them to set standards for success, to acknowledge and reward the behaviors they wanted most, and to deal with problem behaviors.  But most importantly, we taught them to believe that their staff’s input and perspective mattered to the success of the business.

When you seek out your staff’s input and perspective, you are gaining access to critical bits of data that might otherwise escape your eyes and ears.  You are getting an in-depth look into each area of your business where your staff is working day in and day out.  If you hold that they have valuable information, you will always know what is happening in the critical places of your business.

This week, we’d like you to consider how you think about your staff (or your colleagues or your kids, for that matter).  Do you believe that they have a perspective that is valuable to you in your decision-making or do you believe they will interfere with your efficient decision-making?  Do you feel curious about how you are perceived as a leader or do you believe their concerns are their problem?  Do you wonder what they believe they need to succeed or are you certain that you know and don’t need their input?

The first step of creating engagement is telling people that they matter and to do so genuinely, they must in fact matter.