Three people (dis)engagement behaviours to watch out for

As we head into summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere!) and the pace adjusts slightly, hopefully giving us a little time to reflect, develop and plan, I wanted to share two posts that relate to HOW we achieve our goals and WHAT we can and should expect from those around us in the process.  Both this post on people (dis)engagement behaviours and the next post on the real value of employee tenure are meant to be thought-provoking, to get the readers to challenge and question their approach.  In this post, the three people (dis)engagement behaviours happen regularly in many businesses, but directly contribute to staff attrition we often see after the summer period.  So read on, and reflect if you need to make a few changes!

Don’t smothering them – You employed your team for a purpose, no matter how senior or junior, so trust them to do their job… or start questioning your own ability to recruit the right people!  If you are feeling the need to spend a disproportionate amount of time in guiding, steering or managing the team, it’s worthwhile asking for some peer input. Are you recruiting people that are too junior?  Are you empowering them enough to collaborate freely?  Are you doubting your own ability or feeling threatened by your peoples’ abilities?  Be prepared to accept feedback that will challenge you – it’s the only way to move forward.  If you don’t ask for peer feedback, you are likely to continue with the same challenges, but create a greater negative impact around the business as it grows.

Avoid drowning your people, too.  It’s not just about how much you can get out of them, hopefully you are not just looking to use and burn out your people!  Based on their skills, experience and tenure, take time to reflect realistically on what you can expect.  The gap between their ability and your expectations / requirements is YOUR problem, so don’t make it theirs!

Don’t rely on the “trap door” – Things don’t always work out, and it’s good to be decisive and act when you feel the need.  If someone doesn’t fit, they aren’t all they are cracked up to be, or they are not delivering on their commitment, before pulling the “trap door’ where they were “here today and gone tomorrow”; think!  What will the impact on the team be?  Minimal?  Serious?  Disruptive?  How will you be perceived as responsible manager or leader?  Impulsive?  Decisive?  Dismissive?  If as a business you already have a “reputation” for the trap door approach, how might this impact your ability to attract future talent and skills?

Performance management needs to be in place early on in a business’s lifecycle.  If those in the business see that the manager or leader is giving individuals a chance to address performance, the whole team will be more accepting and forgiving if there is still a need to let someone go.  That said, keep the balance right – the need to take SOME action rather than avoiding a situation is key – just make sure that action builds on your credibility, not shreds it!

Watch those bragging rights! – It started in the internet boom years, where businesses started to turn their office from dull desks in rigid rows into a creative place where people enjoyed working. Over time, it became more and more competitive, with the coolest companies wanting to out-do each other, and create bragging rights about how cool their business, brand, staff and offices were.  At some point, post-bursting of internet bubble, lots of these things were taken away.  The business leaders saw them as nice-to-have perks, but the staff saw them as part of the deal.  This created a few tricky situations.  Fast forward to the modern office, and we are heading back to the bragging days.

A beer fridge is only good if you drink alcohol. Theme Park day trip are always more fun with your kids than with colleagues. Cliques and “fixed fun” routines are not so great when you are on the outside because you are new to a company. One size fits no-one, so balance the fun elements of your budget spend with real opportunities for personal development of your people. Stop boasting about how much you do for them, and focus on how much impact it has – this means asking your people what they want!  I’ve heard countless times from front line employees that, “I’d rather go on a training course or have a pay rise than the free lunch or after work drinks.”  As a company grows, make sure you evolve what makes you an attractive employer to encompass all your employees, not just those who joined early on.

The most important advice that  I can give any manager, leader or business head, with regards the people they employ, can be summed up in six words.  Show them the respect they deserve. You’ve spent a lot of money finding the right people, creating a work space, dreaming up a business plan and convincing investors to put money in.  The people you employ are the secret weapon that will make the dream a reality.  Those who join early on should get kudos and respect for their tenure, but make sure you find a way to validate and evolve you employee attraction and retention approach.  If you can do this, you’ll always stay one step ahead of the competition!

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