I just read another article about employee engagement and motivation. As with most of these articles it had some very good points. It spoke of engagement and training. It covered creating a culture the team could be proud of that was environmentally and socially conscious. I don’t disagree with any of these. I usually agree with most of the points I find in these articles. What I don’t see in most of the articles is fundamental foundation that every employee looks for. Bosses that care!
People want to work for people who really care about them individually. They want to be more than a number that management is always trying to figure out how they tic as a group. They don’t want leaders throwing out programs to make them more engaged. Before any of that, they just want to know you care. They want to know you consider them relevant and important to the organization. They do not want to be viewed as a group and herded like cattle through the next employee enrichment program. They do not want management to build programs based on surveys and exit polls from the industry. They want the boss to give a damn.
Over my 35 years in management I have attributed my success to one thing. The great team I was working with. Now there have been many teams, yet they have all worked together to make me successful. It all started with me caring about them. They are the most important people in my life, short of my family. Through their hard work I am able to pay my house and car payment, pay the utilities and provide for my family. Through THEIR hard work. It’s not me! At Ebsco I am not able to make a spring. Without them there would be NO income. They make it happen. When I was at Walgreens I was able to do most of the functions but not as well as them and definitely could not have done it on my own. THEY made me successful. THEY are some of the most important people in my life and I let them know it. Any manager that does not get this basic premise is doomed for failure.
Don’t get me wrong. They are not my best friends that I hang out with off work. They aren’t looking for that. I’m still a boss and they need someone to talk about when they are sharing a beer after work. But I do share stories about my personal life with them and allow them to get to know me and I want to know more about them. I try to keep them always informed about the company and how we are doing. I share our triumphs and openly talk about our failures, OUR failures, not theirs. I try to always be there to listen and then act on what they say. After all, they know more about what is going on then I do.
And that’s the key. When they know you care and will respond, they will honestly confide in you about what is going on. They will tell you what they need and what they want. You will not need exit polls and industry surveys, You will not need “canned programs” and expert articles, you will get the real low down from them. It’s much easier to provide the right culture for employees to like their jobs when they tell you what that culture is. They become your expert opinion. not some MBA writing an article.
This was really critical in my last five years at Ebsco. My background was in retail management and I didn’t know manufacturing, especially spring making. They taught me and still are teaching me. They opened up and told me what they needed to do their jobs. They were honest with me and told when I went astray. They made me a success. Yes, the Ebsco Team is some of the most important people in my life. They have been GREAT! Thank you all for all you have done for me to allow me to succeed. You are the best management consultants money can buy.
So when you read the articles and books on managing employees, realize that many of the things written will work, ONLY if you lay the foundation first. They only work if you first care about the people you are managing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to a couple of team members about an idea I have. I know they will tell if it will work.