Caring Leaders Connect and Influence
Leaders face a variety of challenges in the workplace. And most of those challenges center around people. The caring leader recognizes how people impact the organization. What are some of your people challenges?
Long Break Lilly.
Perpetually Late Pete.
Social Media Sally.
Have you seen any of these people around your office?
You know the pattern. They show up just barely on time for work or even a few minutes late. The first thing they do is take a coffee break. They chat around with their friends for a while. They complain about their job, the workplace, the company, and life in general.
They finally (allegedly) start to work. They mess around with a few things until the eagerly anticipated lunch hour. No matter what’s going on, no matter how urgent, lunchtime is lunchtime.
When they finally return from lunch (likely a few minutes late) it takes a while for them to get back into the groove to actually get work done. They may even spend more time chatting around.
They quit at four. They go home at five. Another semi-productive or unproductive day.
The Unengaged Worker
Almost certainly you have seen these people. So have I.
Apparently, so have a lot of organizations. In fact, according to recent studies by Gallup and other groups, 70% of the workforce INCLUDING MANAGERS act like this. It has reached epidemic proportions.
The result is BILLIONS OF DOLLARS lost due to poor productivity, high employee turnover, poor customer satisfaction, and plummeting sales.
Why? Is the modern worker simply self-absorbed or lazy or dishonest? Has loyalty gone the way of the dodo?
No and no.
Leadership is the Cause
As my mentor John C. Maxwell says,
“Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership!”
Many experts claim that people don’t quit the company, they quit the boss. The research seems to actually support that. Gallup released a studythat showed that 50% of employees leave because of the boss. While that’s only half, it’s important to note that it’s a half that could have been kept.
If you are a manager or business owner, you likely know how expensive it is to find, hire, and train a new employee to replace an experienced one who quit as well as the cost of lost productivity while they get up to speed.
In addition, other research shows that 70% of customers leave due to a poor customer experience. Not price. Not selection. EXPERIENCE. And who is providing that customer experience?
- Watercooler Wally
- Long Break Lilly
- Perpetually Late Pete
- Social Media Sally
Therefore we can’t avoid the conclusion that poor leadership is responsible for almost all disengagement. You could even make a case that the very rare inherently disengaged employee is also the fault of leadership. It means leadership did a poor job of screening and hiring the right person.
A Story of an Uncaring Leader
Right out of college I was hired into a managerial role. And it taught me the lesson that has stuck me all these years.
I was particularly frustrated by John (not his real name) who worked an odd shift. He seemed, at least in my view, to take great delight in doing the opposite of whatever I asked for.
But let’s be real. I was a bossy guy then. My expectations were unreasonable and poorly communicated. In addition, I knew next to nothing about John. Personally or otherwise. And I didn’t want to.
All I knew was that I wanted to solve a problem and the only way I could see clear to solving it was by immediately terminating John.
But I needed my bosses OK to do that. I didn’t get it. Instead, he asked me a series of questions about what I knew about John. His background and family life. His aspirations. He also asked me about how I set expectations and how I communicated that to John.
I was faced with the reality that this was to a great extent my own doing. And that’s when my manager dropped the bomb on me. He said,
“Leadership creates all the problems. Leadership is also the only ones who can solve the problems.”
The Caring Leader The Boldly Lead Way
Leadership is the focal point of how we will solve the issues we face. It begins with a process that I call The Boldly Lead WayTM.
Caring leads to connecting. Connecting allows you to positively Influence. Influencing is the only way you can truly Lead.
Notice it starts with caring. If you want to solve the problem of disengaged workers you become a caring leader. It is only through caring for our people that we create a culture that promotes engagement. The employee still has to make the decision to engage, but when we create the right environment we make that decision easy.
How to Care
A full-time employee will spend eight or more hours a day at work. Out of a 24-hour day, if you are getting your prescribed sleep then you sleep for eight hours. Many don’t, so let’s call it seven hours. So you are awake for 17 hours. That means almost half of your waking hours are at work! One-third of your total day!
Can you just turn life off and put emotions in check for 8 or more hours a day?
Neither can I. No one else can either. We are emotional beings. Emotions are personal.
In addition, you want people on your team that are engaged. That involves passion and a sense of significance.
So reject the idea of impersonal business relationships. Everyone wants to know that they are important, that they matter, that they are part of a family and that they are significant. You’ve got to get personal to do that.
Care About What They Care About
What people really want to know is that what they care about matters. If advancement in the organization is a hot spot for them, it should matter to you. What can you do to encourage and help them?
And this is not limited to workplace issues. If feeding the homeless is a passion of theirs, you need to care enough to support them in that. Does that mean you have to join the board of the local homeless coalition? Not unless you want to. Does it mean you support and encourage your employee in their cause? Without a doubt.
Know Their Family
What is the name of their spouse, partner, or significant other? Do they have children? How many? What are the children’s names? Do you know the birthdays of all of them? What are the important challenges their family is facing?
The caring leader knows their family. It’s their WHY. An intrinsic part of their motivation.
At the end of the day, people don’t really want you to solve their problems. They really just want to be heard. They want to know that you care enough to hear them. We listen to those we respect and love.
Nothing shows love, respect, and esteem more than the intent listening ear.