A recent Gallup study shows that out of 100 million full-time American employees, a mere 33 percent like their job. Over 51 percent are disengaged, or apathetic. That means a little more than half your team may be phoning it in. And, if you think the remainder of employees are all in, you’re wrong. There’s still approximately 16 percent that are actively disengaged. Ruh roh. That’s worse than disengaged. These are the employees that come to work, get paid, but instead of at least doing the minimum expected like the disengaged folks, they do even less. And, it doesn’t bother them. They likely don’t care, because they haven’t bought in to your company, their job, or you, their leader.
There’s a way through this for employees and leaders. There’s hope. It starts with valuing people. It means giving intentional thought and care to every aspect of our interactions at work. Focusing on an organization’s culture, internal communication, decision-making, the ways in which strategy, direction, and roles are made clear – all of it. In this scenario, all aspects of running the organization are designed with excellence in mind, and with an eye for profit and results, but equal attention and commitment is given to the needs of people.
I DO care. Really, I do.
If you’re like most leaders I’ve worked with, you may be looking back over recent dialogues with your team, considering how you’ve interacted with them. If this is something you are thinking about, your next question can be – what might I care about more than my people? When you care about something else more, the truth – whether you utter it aloud or not – will come through and your actions and words will reveal what you really value.
First, you should know, it’s not really your fault. We receive many messages from people and sources we respect that relay to us what we should care about, how we should manage ourselves, and the ways we should learn to fit in and act in society. They come at us from the time we’re young. Mentors and colleagues we respect share work-focused truisms as we progress throughout our careers, as well.
If you’ve lost your perspective on valuing people, I believe that somewhere along the way it’s not that you stopped caring (I’m sure you’re a good person!). Rather, you heard messages that you’d be smart to care about other things more. It’s nice to care for people, give to charity, make the world a better place. But, maybe you heard messages that said don’t forget to put yourself first if you want a great career – get that job, do what it takes to get promoted. Our choices are more often shaped by our pre-conceptions (how we learned to be and interact with the world from the time we were young) than we realize. Caring for people has become something done outside of the workplace, not in it.
Think back on the decisions you’ve made over the last year. Focus on decisions at work, or in your career or area of expertise. Where any of them difficult to make? Did any of them have an impact on people? If yes, how did you decide? If you are like most leaders and companies, you did some analysis, reviewed the data, and made the decision that was best for revenue or the bottom line. Right? Concern for people likely wasn’t part of your decision making. Many companies run successfully in this way. But, what is the unarticulated cost to people when decision-making happens like this? The wake of decisions not made with people in mind can last well beyond the decision itself.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change ourselves and workplaces by committing to value the people around us. Gandhi said we can change the world by being the change we want to see. It just takes a first step to start. Be the change. Where can you start this week?