Why do businesses underperform?  HINT: It’s not about having the right Strategy OR the right Plan according to research done by Booz and Company consultants and published in HBR.

The secret, according to the study, lies in engagement and communication. And, even though the study was published almost a decade ago, the reality hasn’t changed very much, if at all.

According to Gallup’s annual report on U.S. workplace engagement, less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their job in any given year. This finding has been consistent since 2000, when Gallup first began measuring U.S. workplace engagement.

That means the majority of your employees are indifferent zombies, sleepwalking through their workday without a regard for their performance or their organization’s performance. Ponder on that for a minute or ten.

A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms the rest in good times, and thrives in bad times versus one that profitably underperforms when the economy is good and struggles to survive when there’s a downturn.

So the real question is, as the leader, what are you doing that encourages your employees to be disengaged?

Here are 4 possible culprits:

1. You and your employees aren’t clear what is expected of them at work.

If you haven’t seen or reminded yourself of the most important factors for increasing employee engagement, check out the Q12 from Gallup.  Their answer on question #1 – “I know what is expected of me at work” had better be “strongly agree” if you want to ensure that they really understand what they are accountable to deliver.  And don’t take “YES” for an answer. Confirm you’re both on the same page by asking them what you expect.  BTW – Gallup considers the first five questions “Base Camp” as far as creating an engaged workforce.  How would your employees answer?


2. You don’t have an effective process and a regular communication rhythm that involve your key people in the decision making and keeps your employees accountable.

If you’re struggling to get people on the same page and accountable, how are you involving them in your planning process? Do they know what the strategy and goals of the company are?  (How do you know?) Are you holding weekly tacticals and having them tell you what their top priorities are for the week AND how they did against their Scorecard items?  If you need some help here, check out this fabulous video based on the work of Pat Lencioni in “Death by Meeting” about how to have a great Weekly Tactical (Level 10) meeting.


3. You haven’t shared or educated your employees on what is important to the business, where the company is going, and what the company’s plan is for developing talents.

If they don’t understand what’s important to the business, what kind of business education are you providing?  Having monthly management meetings where you’re sharing information on the business goals, direction, financials AND asking the critical question at the end of the meeting, “What did you hear?” will help them to make the connection between what they’re doing every day and where the business is going (Question #8 on the Gallup Q12).


4. You poison the well by enabling and keeping poor performers or employees that don’t meet your Core Values expectations.

When was the last time you made a “cultural adjustment”?  Have you let someone go in the last year for poor performance or for not meeting your Core Value expectations?  Several of the clients that I’ve worked with have had to make these tough decisions over the past six months – and while they’ve been sad decisions for the leaders they’ve all ultimately had very positive impacts on their other employees’ attitudes AND their companies’ performance.  Brad Harris, author of “Ownership Thinking” has a very pointed but realistic saying, “The first clean kill alerts the herd.”  When you make lack of accountability have consequences with teeth, you shape a culture AND reward those who are doing the work.

And if you want go deeper and learn more about how to “Scale Up” successfully, as well as what NOT to do, plan on attending our 11th Annual Growth Strategies Breakfast on March 9th

Lisa Hamilton Ridley, former CEO, President, Managing Partner and Board Member for companies across a broad range of industries including service, technology, transportation and media will be joining us to talk about the successes as well as the failures of CEO’s, from her perspective as both a business leader and a business coach.  Throughout her career, Lisa has specialized in successfully leading businesses through accelerated growth and organizational change.  She’s participated in seven startups, led two turnarounds and worked with numerous mature businesses transitioning to the next level.

For more information or to register for the breakfast, here’s the link: https://bit.ly/AnnualGrowthBfast

RSVP ASAP – This event always sells out!


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