Based on the Towers-Watson 2012 Global Workforce Survey, 65% of all workers are disengaged, unsupported or detached from work.
Employees in every sector consistently express some level of concern about their job security, trust in senior leadership, stress about their job, concerns about their direct supervisor, future development opportunities and many others.
Each leader has four priorities in helping their employee reach the goal of productivity: define the goal, clarify the path, remove obstacles and provide direction and support. Haploos has examined each of the specific obstacles that hinder goal achievement and productivity.
Many employers fail to clearly define goals, leaving them vague or introducing multiple or competing goals. This causes employees’ performance and behavior to suffer. Management must provide specific vision and clear direction.
After clarifying goals, the leader needs to give clear direction to ensure the path to the goal is defined. Unclear directions have a debilitating effect on employees who can become immobilized by uncertainty. Some may understand the goal but do not know how to get there. When leaders give clear directions, employees have a greater sense of control, understanding exactly what is required of them. Employees want to know what they are supposed to do and when to do it.
Effective leaders encourage employees to do their work and do it well. A leader can do several things to help an employee feel motivated about their work. First, a leader needs to help employees feel competent in the task they are working on. Offering encouragement during and after a complex task has been achieved facilitates an employee’s sense of competence. Second, employees must place a high value on the work they are doing. When a leader values work, they motivate employees to put forth the effort needed to accomplish a task or goal. Leaders need to help employees see the direct value in their work.
Daniel Pink states in his book Drive, "The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table: Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about the work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose."
- Autonomy: the desire to be self-directed.
- Mastery: the itch to keep improving at something that’s important to us.
- Purpose: the sense that what we do produces something transcendent or serves something meaningful beyond ourselves.
In some instances the problem is a complex task. When tasks are complex, a leader helps an employee by providing direction, instruction, training and/or a timeline to help the employee feel competent about moving forward in his or her work. Clarity is essential when being directive about a complex task. As much as possible, the leader must reduce the complexity of the task by providing clear directions.
Sometimes a task is so simple and repetitive that it becomes dull and boring. This can sap an employee’s motivation. In these cases, a leader must take a supportive roll by encouraging employees. hen the leader demonstrates care and support for the employee, dull and repetitive tasks can be more enjoyable. Specifically, the support must demonstrate a care for the well-being of the employee. Additionally, it is often beneficial to give the employee a side project to break up the monotony of their current task.
When employees are not involved or connected in a group or organization, productivity often drops. Employees feel low involvement when their ideas are not heard or when participation is not welcomed. A leader should invite employees to share their ideas on the work and/or organization. Creating an open climate where differing opinions can be offered combats low involvement.
Many employees are not productive when they are not challenged by their work. When work is too easy, a leader can challenge employees to perform at the highest level possible or provide new tasks and opportunities to engage the employee. The leader continually challenges and empowers employees to excel and seek higher levels of success in current or new tasks.
In the 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce study, roughly half of the respondents agreed their senior executives do a good job in terms of growing the business (53%) and managing costs (49%). Under half said they have trust and confidence in the job their leaders are doing. If half the workforce does not have confidence in the job their leaders are doing, how motivated will they be to become high performers? How loyal will they be to the organization? Fear of the unknown is a powerful emotion that drives employees to either improve or fail.
Employees thrive through active interactions with their role models, especially when those role models push them to achieve more. This type of interaction contributes to positive engagement and a better overall workplace environment.
The Dale Carnegie “What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters” study revealed the following about a leaders impact on its employees: