My son was four years old, and I was in a department store. I reached up for a box of detergent, only to look down and discover that my son was no longer in the aisle with me. After a moment of panic, I called his name. He peeked around the corner, having been lured away by the prospect of candy on the next aisle.
Later that night I was watching a commercial that repeated the catch phrase, It’s 11:00 p.m. Do you know where your children are?
Of course I did. It was 11:00 p.m. and they were tucked safely in bed. I kept a check on them at all times. I knew what motivated them and what made them mad, what made them laugh and what made them cry. Through these observations, I had a good sense of who they were as individuals.
I don’t believe leaders should be parents, or should have the same level of knowledge about those that work for them. However, I do think they need to understand where their people are concerning their engagement and dedication to the job.
To be engaged, employees need to know things like:
I heard some leaders talking the other day, and they were trying to motivate a group by giving them a small pay increase. Not a bad idea if the pay is really out of balance, but they were working to institute a motivator that would last about 3 months. Pay increases provide a quick bump in satisfaction, but don’t touch engagement.
As they discussed the increase, I asked them – How often do you communicate with your team? Do they know how you feel about the work they do? Do you know what they do? Do you know what they sacrifice to do it?
Most employees truly want to help their company succeed, even in these days of cynicism and fraud. We need to understand that the first employees to wander away for a lack of recognition or leadership involvement are our top performers. If we don’t take the time to let them know how they make a difference, they will wander to another company.
People aren’t as concerned about counting their pennies as they are knowing that they count.