Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How Do You Think About Your People?

"Do you think about the people who work for you as instruments to achieve your organizational objectives? Or do you think of them as human beings who have hopes, ambitions and personal lives in addition to capabilities?"

A couple of years ago I heard the Dean of a prominent US university business school challenge a group of executive MBA students with these questions.  His point was that if you see your people only as instruments to achieve organizational ends you will never get any of their discretionary effort and indeed will fall short of full productivity.  He went on to assert this was more than a touchy-feely, "humanistic-as-an-end-in-itself" approach to leadership....there is business value in treating your staff as individuals with different needs and in so doing tapping into their full potential. 

Just this week the most recent Gallup poll on employee engagement in the US was released.  You can access the full report at this link.  Their most recent research reveals that only 30% of the American workforce is actively engaged and 70% are not engaged or actively disengaged...actively disengaged meaning they hate their jobs and influence others to do so also.  Among the conclusions from this report are that 1) Engagement makes a difference in the bottom line...productivity, profitability, earnings per share(EPS), safety, customer satisfaction, absenteeism...almost every measure 2) Leaders make a difference  3) Different types of workers need different engagement strategies. 4) Engagement has a greater impact on performance than corporate policies and perks

These recent findings reinforce the points the B-school Dean was making to the EMBA students.  Leaders make a difference and the way they treat their people makes a difference.  If you treat your people as individuals...gender, age, tenure and other variables all come into play....if you support and empower them....if you coach and mentor more than you direct and demand....then you have a much greater chance of organizational success.

How do you think about your people?


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