Ask 10 business professionals what their toughest challenge is in this economic landscape and you may get 10 different answers. One challenge not mentioned may be the high number of uninterested and unengaged employees.
The good news is that this is something an individual and businesses can do something about. When businesses create a proactive working environment, one in which there is good communication, employees are made aware of the objectives, given opportunities to learn and take ownership of their position, you have engagement. Your success is directly affected by employee development.
There are five key areas that affect a business’s success: people, culture (work environment), processes, strategy and the quality of product. People and culture were listed first for a significant reason. In my 35 years of management experience, I’ve seen the strong correlation between people/culture and success. It is the people and the culture that impacts the processes, creates the strategies, and determines the quality of the product.
Dan Coryell, former NFL coach once said, “the country is full of good coaches; what it takes to win is interested players.” We can spend unlimited time trying to improve processes, product and creating strategy. However, if our team is not interested, we are just going through the motions.
What makes the issue of employee engagement so important today?
Shockingly, national polls show that 45% to 75% of business professionals are distracted and disengaged (depending on poll and industry). This means they are not giving full attention to what they are doing. If you doubt this for a minute, reflect on the customer service experiences you have had over the last year.
Without focused execution nothing gets done. In my book The Power of Ownership, an allegory about focused engagement through self-accountability, the point is made that we only have two choices when it comes to anything-we either take control (Ownership), or we just take what comes. Taking Ownership can result in businesses and individuals accomplishing things they never thought possible, adverse conditions or not.
For a business, Ownership occurs in a self-accountability work environment where employees have a passion for what they do. For us as individuals it means looking at ourselves as a business entity - focused on individual and team success. This is how we create our own present, a secure future for us as individuals and the business we work for.
In The Power of Ownership, two communities of squirrels experience opposite results in working through a major storm. Their differing perspectives on interest and engagement create different results. It is an example of how fate is defined well before it ever arrives.
We are in the middle of a storm today – a challenging economy, an evolving and ever-changing business landscape, and individual uncertainty about what tomorrow brings. It is a storm that can be overcome with dedication, cooperation, and passionate engagement. It starts with interest and full engagement-Ownership, and it goes from there.