Numerous organizations in a variety of cultures keep pointing at one critical enabler of innovation. Engaged and caring employees who care for each other, their customers, suppliers and stake holders. For only those who care,care to really listen. And that converts ideas into products and services- that can be profitably implemented.
Employee engagement is hard and more so in uncertain economic times. Instead of trying to make employees comfortable and energized when you are not firing them, some organizations seem to take a perverse delight in making employees feel insecure. What a waste ! Just consider that here is a situation where you are not firing an employee but by giving a whole series of wrong signals,perhaps inadvertently, you have been successful in turning off that employee.
In fact, at a recent meeting this blogger was taken aback when the organization leaders enthusiastically talked all about the initiatives they were taking, while a significant section of the rank and file were completeley dis-engaged. In fact, one stake-holder remarked " they don't care" after meeting with a manager. And the waste is that the particular manager will be working in the next year, and not contributing to even 20% of her/his potential contribution.
Clearly the dis-engaged manager must have some drama going on in her/his life but if there are several managers who are just clocking time- the organization has a problem. You can almost guarantee that customers are not getting great service and suppliers are being barely tolerated.
Can you expect the dis-engaged managers to contribute to ideas and innovation? Quite unlikely, in fact they'll succeed in turning off customers -who bring in revenue. Worse for innovation, they'll turn off suppliers.
So what should leaders and managers and organizations do to promote innovation and creativity? Here are three suggestions:
- Timing is everything: If you decide to fire an employee in the summer decide by January 1.Then help that person get another job that is more suited for her/him so that you are seen as a caring boss. Someone who cares about your team even if you want them out. It will enormously help morale of everyone and the best is that your alumni will speak well of you.
- Embrace the rest: OK this is an idea from Jack Welch, who advocated that you hug your top performers, give them raises promotions but let them know that that they have your full trust and confidence.
- Everyone else: in the organization that stays must feel the above.
Once people feel that they matter, they care. They become engaged and they are innovative and creative , without the leader looking over their shoulder. Contact StratoServe.