Every so often a truly insightful article arrives on a subject that everyone is puzzling about. David Creelman produced one with his latest newsletter interview/review of Leigh Branham and his new book, Re-Engage with Mark Hirschfeld. He notes Branham’s most important point is that most great workplaces arise when a CEO starts the enterprise with that goal in mind – to create a great place to work. Interestingly, many of those not only survive, but thrive as far as we can tell (though there’s room for more research on this).
That’s a testament to a number of key observations. First, you can set out to and succeed at creating a great place to work. Second, it’s hard to retrofit once cynicism has started if you haven’t created one from scratch (but I’ve seen it done). Third, line officers have to get involved to drive the process and walk the talk. You can’t just task HR with it and walk away.
He goes on to draw out the idea that engagement can actually go up in difficult economic times, but only with specific attention to making employees feel safe, valued and not hopelessly over-worked. Companies that have managed this are clearly positioned to get the best from everyone and are far more likely to outdo those who don’t believe it’s possible.
He also pokes fun at another common myth – that managers shouldn’t have to ‘engage’ employees, that staff should just take care of that themselves, presumably along with being grateful to have a job. He quotes an astonished CFO who notes, “. an epiphany; I realized for the first time that managing
people is a big part of my job.” When did we allow ourselves to promote people to manage others who didn’t realize this? Forever, unfortunately. We don’t expect financial results to manage themselves, or new technology or marketing.
Pretty well everyone knows perfectly well we normally don’t give people the title “manager” unless they are being promoted to a position with people reporting to them, but somehow about 80% fail to notice that actually managing them is a key part of the job and most companies fail to ensure any specific training is provided in this. Most act as if it comes automatically. Duh! We know many people learn finance and marketing in school. We also know nearly no one learns leadership there. so how do we suddenly presume them to be effective at it? This would be amazingly funny if it wasn’t so sad. and so universal.
Does anyone see this changing?