I was recently recounting my working history for an online profile. Since starting my business last year, I haven’t had much occasion to revisit my resume; instead I’ve been focusing on position statements, capability documents and bios. And while my resume is very polished (that comes from being a career coach for so many years!) some distance and perspective led me to discover something new about my working history.
Social scientists and human resources academics have been researching employee engagement and the concepts in and around it (like job satisfaction, happiness and burnout) for decades now. Our understanding of the science has shifted and changed with advances in thinking and measurement. Based on this we have implemented countless programs, initiatives and projects to "get people happier and more productive". There are two problems with this approach.
I still get surprised when organisations either don't know, or don't care, how their selection process is viewed by their existing and potential candidates. Firstly, because candidates tend to be either current or prospective customers of an organisation. Secondly, and most importantly, I believe that candidates should be afforded the same common courtesy that you wold extend to a friend, or at least a stranger. Why then do we treat candidates with the same distain and standoffishness reserved for enemies?
It's amazing how often I speak with leaders and executives about getting back to basics. I think we get so caught up in the future-focused complexity and speed of our work that we forget about the here and now. What I see though is that forgetting the basics in the here and now can have huge consequences on the future that we're visioning and driving toward. Setting clear leadership expectations is one area that I see neglected time and time again, with some fairly serious consequences.
Technical leadership can be a minefield. Too much of an expert and your people suffer. Too much of a leader and people question your credibility. How can organisations walk this fine line? It begins with understanding your leadership pathways.
Over the years I've come across so many businesses where leadership has just become all too hard. Either the exec wasn't sure exactly which approach they wanted to take so they've implemented multiple options, or legacy and the inertia of existing culture has lead a business to find themselves in that position. How can you turn that ship around?
A few months back I made a video on the true cost of disengagement where I argued that the real impact of disengagement reaches well beyond statistics and percentages, and as leaders we should focus on how it feels to lead a disengaged team. But do you remember how it feels to be disengaged yourself? If not, let me share some of my own story to remind you.
All to often I hear leaders saying that either people leadership isn't part of their role, or that it makes them so uncomfortable that they avoid it all together. Have you ever wondered how we got ourselves into this predicament?
Delegation can be the gateway to trusting, productive relationships with direct reports and a culture where staff are empowered to work toward their own goals. For some leaders though, delegation can be trigger feelings of distrust and concern about the direct report's capacity to deliver.
Moving from ad hoc engagement and wellbeing initiatives to an embedded engagement and wellbeing strategy may seem a stretch for some businesses. The tendency is to see a need and respond reactively. For example, de-stigmatising mental health has received quite a lot of media attention lately, which is fantastic. The reactive response would be to schedule in 'R U OK?' Day communications and add some Lifeline brochures to the lunch room. While these are certainly a step forward in terms of thinking about mental health in the workplace, will it really make an impact?