As a supervisor, you likely feel that you’re doing a pretty good job keeping things moving along at the company. People respect you, even if they don’t love you. Right? Not according to the data.
The numbers, according to an article from Fast Company, are staggering:
Over the past year, Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 150,000 workers—people in all states and industries—and discovered that a stunning number are miserable in their jobs. More specifically, only 30% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work. While Gallup encouragingly notes that there’s been a slight improvement to engagement since the Great Recession, it’s hard to cheer when you realize 52% of Americans admit to being disengaged in their jobs, and another 18% to being actively disengaged.
But the reality is even worse than that. A study of U.S. workers polled by Parade magazine states that 35% would “willingly forgo a substantial pay raise in exchange for seeing their direct supervisor fired..” (Emphasis added, because, wow.)
The columnist Mark C. Crowley paints the picture thusly:
To fully comprehend these grim stats, imagine a crew team out on the Potomac River where three people are rowing their hearts out, five are taking in the scenery, and two are trying to sink the boat. It’s hard to conceive how businesses can thrive when so few people are working to move it forward.
Now that you know there’s a one in three chance your employees wish you would get the pink slip, what should you do?
Get Anonymous Feedback, Immediately
Hopefully your organization is large enough that people can be solicited for their thoughts without it being totally obvious who is who. You can print out this blog post and ask them to type up some unsigned comments. These papers could form the basis for a first round of discussion among your management team about your level of employee engagement.
A further step would be to talk to an outside consulting firm and ask them to survey your workers. They can you let you know what’s going on without any one person feeling singled out. And hopefully, you’re open to taking that advice to heart.
Get Out of the Way
If among the most significant problems in the American workforce is employee engagement, then one of the most common ways that problem manifests itself is through the horrible practice of micromanagement. Chances are you’re giving your employees way too much direction, or at the very least interrupting them so often they don’t have time to get anything done.
This drives people up the wall. Often the best advice for managers is the reminder that good management is good leadership: inspiring and supporting individuals, and then trusting them to do their best.
Look for Both the Outliers and the Ordinary Examples
Remember the analogy of the rowing team? There are some people working hard, some people barely working, and some people who are slowing progress. Our tendency is to be vigilant and look for everyone to be slacking off, but the reality is that we need to look everywhere and act accordingly.
- For high achievers: recognize and appreciate their work. Ask them for help coaching others. Support their success.
- For people putting in the minimum: connect and build rapport. Find out what they care about, and learn how to engage them. Connect them with high achievers.
- For those who seem to be causing problems: develop a support system. Determine where they need training or coaching, and work with them to set good metrics.
Your business deserves to make progress on the open waters. That’s not just because everyone is happier when they are all working together, but because you’re not the only team in the race. You have competition, and the group that is most in sync will pull ahead. Train, communicate, and succeed!