After months of economic struggles in the economy there seems to be some signs of growth for employment. Many companies have been able to get away with poor management and leadership practices during the economic malaise the country has experienced. With workers sensing a new opportunity for obtaining a different job there may be a tidal wave of employees looking for alternative places to work.
What many employers have forgotten in the restructure of the American economy is that the essentials of human motivation haven’t changed over time and that is, that people need to be treated fairly and equitably in all aspects. If people are going to be treated as disposable commodities then worker loyalty is going to be low. With the belief that workers are merely temporary hands will show up as lower employee engagement.
Morale of workers is important if companies desire a high degree of success. Enthusiastic employees are more engaged in the work they do and have corresponding high degree of success, customer satisfaction and high levels of output, 30-40% higher than employees that aren’t motivated. It is easy to see that engaging employees and providing the right levels of support is a key to success.
The relationship between employee morale and performance is reciprocal and as morale increases so does performance and when performance increases and people see great results morale increases again. This relationship between positive feedback and positive results is an essential ingredient in overall business success. In organizations where perceived results are negative morale will collapse as there is no emotional incentive to produce at higher levels. When the message is constant that the results aren’t good enough despite high levels of contribution from the employees motivation to produce more or better results are going to be difficult to achieve.
When employees are treated as fungible assets the message isn’t about loyalty and higher productivity, the goals an organization desires, but rather it is the belief that everyone is an expendable commodity and that sends a clear message as to the worth of an individual contributor in that community.
The idea that employees are expendable can be attributed to management’s belief that people are just that, expendable, which is often contrary to the stated messages used to recruit people, “People are our most valued asset”.
To understand why people aren’t valued as key corporate assets it might be useful to review what happens in companies that lose their way. Management/ leaders have a view that:
- That they are #1 in their game. Arrogance with respect to the value and quality of the products or services the organization produces believing that others don’t have the ability to produce to the same level.
- Confused interests. Personal and corporate boundaries aren’t clearly maintained and as a result personal ambition becomes the driving force in an attempt to build a personal empire.
- They have the answers. When the dialogue and agenda becomes one-sided, the idea that only management/leaders have the answer and all others merely obey the dictates of management.
- Selective disengagement. When leaders remove anyone not 100% committed to their goal. Contrasting positions or ideas are defined as not being committed to the cause and those people are removed in short order.
- Great performance is valued over great results. When leaders and management focus more on the style and quality of a presentation rather than the content of the presentation suggest a shift from accomplishment to presentation performance. It looks good on the outside therefore it must be good on the inside. The real discussion should be about the results and how to achieve better results rather than having a “pretty” presentation.
- Underestimating the problems. It some cases leaders will be so consumed with their personal ambition that they neglect to understand the risks and complexities of implementing their vision. The enormous need to succeed and be seen as a visionary leader can often lead to projects that are designed to promote the desires of the leader rather than being the right solution for the organization. Unrealistic expectations at the senior levels of an organization can lead to investments that are not able to produce the desired outcomes.
- Reliance on methods that worked in the past. Methods and processes that appeared to work in the past may not be what are best for today. In some cases leaders rely on processes or methods that had worked for them in the past and stubbornly believe that those methods should work in the present. The inability to let go of old techniques often suffocates the innovation needed to create solutions that will work.
- Insulative behaviors. Moving away from individuals contributors and working only with other senior level leaders and managers isolates ideas, issues and concerns from being heard.
Employees want equity and fairness in the workplace. Increasing employee engagement means building trust and respect with the employees, and letting them know what is happening rather than operating under a cloak of secrecy.
To successfully navigate the turbulence of the workplace, workers need to have alternative plans and be ready to implement those plans. Hoping for long term employment at the same organization is wishful thinking and in today’s hyper- competitive marketplace having options available is a good plan of action.
What is your plan of action? How are you preparing for your future?