I remember working with a CEO, who when asked the question how many people work here would reply, “Oh about half.” Although that may be a funny wise crack comment, on a serious note the Gallup organization reports that it is only one third. Should you be concerned? The best way to illustrate the cost employee disengagement is with this story.
I recently did a similar survey for an organization. This organization provides onsite catering and event services. Their requirements for success are a providing good service, great food, consistency, and a great guest experience. The owner and his son were physically worn out. They were struggling to get more business but having a hard time providing good service to existing customers. Here is why.
For starters, father and son disagreed on the operation of the business. Because of this, some key employees chose to align with one family member over the other. Their managers complained about lack of leadership and direction. One manager was very hard on her staff and had no tolerance with people of different capabilities. You could read the lack of tolerance in her face. One owner knew of this manager’s difficulties with her staff but was afraid to confront her. He complained that it would be difficult to replace her because he felt that it was difficult to recruit and hire in his geographic area. Finding staff in that area was not the problem. Rather, the reputation created by the entire leadership team was suppressing applicants and potential customers alike. This example shows how employee disengagement will torpedo the success of the business.
The concept of change is never easy to accept. These owners were defensive and made excuses. Pride, however, will not result in a profitable outcome. Embracing change will begin the process improvement. Here are the starting recommendations to correct this situation:
- The owners must agree on vision, values and objectives for their establishment. In order to have managers that lead they must first inspire. Be clear and be positive. Owners must convey their goals to everyone but they should concentrate on their managers. They need to make sure their managers understand the business objectives and that they be given clear authority to get results by working through their team. They should focus on:
- Leadership Objectives
- Overall Direction
- Customer Focus
- Standards to Measure Results
- Focus on Staff Development
- Easy to Follow Systems
- Accountability for Results
- Hold the managers accountable for objectives that they have the authority to implement. Give managers a clear description of duties, authority, and responsibility. Don’t countermand a manager’s directives to staff. Instead, discuss disagreements with managers privately.
- Have detailed job descriptions with regular and ongoing performance feedback. Hold the staff accountable and take proper action to correct errors. Have a no tolerance policy for abuse.
- Develop easy to follow systems and procedures that will facilitate smooth operations.
- Develop a customer loyalty program. Create a process to exceed customer expectations.
This is a start. When it becomes a habit then focused owners will empower engaged and focused leaders empowering an engaged staff serving loyal customers.