Flipping the percentages now will save the world (in my opinion). Consider that some 70% of the workforce in the United States hates their job, according to recent polls by the Gallop organization. And how about this bit of depressing news: these surveys have been conducted for over 20 years and the trends are the same, year over year and on and on!! Why isn’t this sad trend the subject of national headlines? Is it because it is not newsworthy? Is this just “the way it is”?
Many are quick to blame their organization, the working conditions, or their industry. Many think: “If only I worked for the next Google, that would be exciting.”
But if it were that easy, then why were highly compensated key executives recently bolting from Uber like the building was on fire?
Our Leaders Are The Problem
In fact, the leader is often at the center of this problem, and here’s why: people often become demoralized when they conclude that they are showing up on Monday morning in order to enrich and empower the executives.
Consider this simple test: would the average American worker rather work toward a cause or toward the enrichment of their boss?
That’s a no-brainer.
A Better Future
Imagine what our nation could do if these sad numbers were flipped around, if 70% of our workforce liked their job? Our world would dramatically change for the better- if we fully tapped into the human resources of intellect, spirit and creativity? We could discover new life-saving drugs, cultivate innovative agricultural crops, invent more clean energy technology, and tackle humanitarian crises like climate change.
The truth is, we need more leaders who understand how valuable liking your job is! We need more leaders who challenge themselves to take ownership of these sad percentages. Please! Bring us more leaders who acknowledge that they have a role in whether or not their organizations feel connected to something that gives them meaning.
These leaders, who take some responsibility for the connectedness of their people, help foster a symbiotic cycle, where employees who get opportunities to nurture their on-the-job enthusiasm give their leaders and organizations so much more in return. These leaders attain personal fulfillment from seeing their team succeed. Importantly, they also achieve bottom-line material gains, like increased revenues and higher profits.
Leaders That Engage!
There’s a common theme among organizations that are able to build a culture of impassioned employees: these leaders adopt behaviors that communicate their commitment to the Mission at least equals their commitment to their own selfish interests. That’s compelling. Thant’s engaging!
So what distinguishes the leader who is able to foster an engaged workforce from those who unwittingly contribute to the disengagement of some 70% of Americans? Which of these two camps do you think you fall into?
These leaders actively seek to fuse their employees together in service of a shared mission or a common cause. And employees respond when their leader’s commitment to the organization’s purpose is genuine. Their reasoning is contagious and compels: “wow, this place really is committed to our success.”
Most of us are quick to assert our place on the “right” side of this selfish-ego vs. collective ego dilemma. Yet, when pressed, results show that few leaders take the time to carefully think this through.
So What Can We Do?
Communicating your commitment to the mission requires a vigilant, conscious awareness of the message you are delivering with each of the daily decisions that tempt your selfish interests.
Ask yourself: Who do you prioritize on your calendar? How much time do you invest with your front line workers? When you conduct a meeting, who emerges as the smartest person in the room? Whose job is it to step-up and serve that particularly challenging customer? When crisis strikes, who takes ownership?
Truly successful leaders learn how to shift their conscious focus and embrace the selfish-ego vs. collective-ego dilemma, recognizing that employee engagement is earned one decision at a time.
In Fusion Leadership Unleashing the Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts, I, together with eight nationally recognized CEOs, share our experiences as we sought to address this fundamental question. During our collective journey we discovered how everyday leaders could change the bleak reality of an unhappy workforce.
Let’s flip the percentages and turn 70% of our national workforce into happy, engaged employees.
Dudley Slater, co-author, with Steve Taylor, of Fusion Leadership Unleashing The Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts, co-founded and served as the 15 year CEO of Integra Telecom. https://fusionleadership.org