“Things Only Get Done When I’m Here”

We hear this complaint a lot from leaders.

Whether this is true at your company or not, one of the most important things you as a leader can do is empower your team to function without you. Yet many leaders continue to find themselves baby-sitting team members, cleaning up their messes, and even doing their jobs for them. Accompanying symptoms include low levels of customer and employee satisfaction. What's going on?

Our experience: it's likely the leader isn't engaging his or her employees.

Grudging compliance versus empowered engagement

Most employers strive for employees to be merely compliant - simply following orders, completing a checklist, or carrying out a routine process.

The implicit goal is simply to get it done - and keep the boss happy.

(This works best when the boss is around.)

On the other hand, when employees are involved in the process, they can become invested and engaged. They are not merely following orders; they are helping to shape what those orders should be, and they feel empowered to find better ways of carrying them out.

The implicit goal is to get it done well - and help everyone connected to the business.

Collaboration is key

When employees are engaged, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction all improve. The key to engaging employees is collaboration-working together with them to understand what needs to be done instead of just telling them what to do.

Having this "what" and "why" background information leads to greater engagement by the employee and therefore greater satisfaction and better results.

10 minutes to better leadership

  • Prior to a project, sit down with the person tasked with it, and ask: "What do you see as the most important goal for this project, and why is the goal important?" Fill in the pieces they haven't yet gotten. Bonus credit if you walk away with better outcomes than you started with.
  • Ask one of your employees: "What's powerful about what we're doing together?" Listen for how that person is engaged. (Hint - watch for passion and energy!) Figure out how you can do more of those things for all your employees.

On our blog learn about the Five Ways Leaders Discourage Engagement

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Chris Hutchinson