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Let’s get real. You want your people to be resourceful, show initiative, think for themselves, own their jobs, come up with solutions, and then implement them with little guidance from you once they’ve been trained.

You think you hired the right person with every hire. But once they’ve been with you for a few weeks, they turn into a 9 to 5’er. They put in their 8 hours, and then are looking to go home. They’re friendly, do their responsibilities, but offer no creativity, and don’t feel engaged enough to finish a project before leaving for the day.

What’s the common element in all these instances? The staff are different. The tasks are different. What’s common is you and the culture you’ve created.

You are the problem. This is where you need to do some serious soul searching, ask your staff some delicate questions, get some advice and guidance from an executive coach, and see what you can change.

Seven Questions to ask yourself and then your staff:

  1. Have I created a space where people feel it’s ok to try stuff even if they might fail?
  2. Is this a culture of safety where people can speak their minds?
  3. Do I welcome others’ opinions and include them in the decision-making, goal setting and policy creation?
  4. Do I have empathy for the personal things going on in each person’s life?
  5. Do I still do their jobs because I know how to, or do I support them and empower them to do their jobs? In their own way with their own creativity? Am I open to the possibility that one of my employees could achieve even better results than I could?
  6. Do I really listen to what’s important to them and what they want to contribute?
  7. Do I inspire them to see the vision that I see and be proud of the company’s contribution to the world (in other words, to find meaning in their work)?

Answer each question on a 1-5 scale (low to high) so you’re rating your own perception of your leadership. Then ask each of your employees to anonymously rate their experience. Compare what you think and what they think. Own the results. Ask them for help in raising each of your scores. Be vulnerable. Publish the results. Ask them what you can do to be a better leader.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Jeri Quinn of Driving Improved Results for this thought-provoking article.

On a related note, Dr.Travis Bradberry recently posted an article entitled "7 Ways Managers Motivate and Demotivate Employees" and here is the shorthand version of his lists:

Making Things Worse

  1. Make a lot of stupd rules
  2. Let accomplishments go unrecognized
  3. Hire and promote the wrong people
  4. Treat everyone equally
  5. Tolerate poor performance
  6. Go back on their commitments
  7. Be apathetic

Making Things Better

  1. Follow the platinum rule
  2. Be strong without being harsh
  3. Remember that communication is a two-way street
  4. Be a role-model, not a preacher
  5. Be transparent
  6. Be humble
  7. Take a genuine interest in employees’ work-life balance

Check the article for his description of each of these items.