Businesses have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to
improve their employee engagement scores. Yet Gallup who has measured
engagement scores since 2000 has seen little if any change. Engagement has been
defined a number of ways including employees who consistency give discretionary
effort and have a desire to remain employed at their company. Gallup defines
engagement as employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to
their work and workplace. Engagement is directly linked to performance thus
Performance and engagement are both results of cultural,
technological and physical environments. Performance consultants agree that
workplace performance is affected as much as 80% by environmental factors such
as tools, materials and procedures, specificity and timeliness of feedback and
clarity of expectations.
Removing barriers and providing the right tools to make
tasks efficient are managerial functions. Managers miss the mark and entitlement
creeps in when managers attempt to remove all the barriers. Entitlement is
reinforced when barriers become excuses for lack of performance. Cy Wakeman, a
leadership expert and best-selling author advocates accepting the current circumstances
and encouraging personal accountability for results.
Leaders are in charge of allocating those environmental
factors to ensure employees have the tools and resources to fulfill their
goals. Wakeman agrees that clarity of expectations and specificity and
timeliness of feedback are required. She disagrees with leaders and managers
who spoon feed employees. Instead allow employees to figure out how to navigate
the barriers. Let them navigate and grow. Managers too focused on clearing the
path for employees may also lose sight of performance expectations.
Likewise, teachers became so enamored with growth mindset to
motivate children to achieve, some lost sight of achievement as its purpose. Carol
Dweck, Stanford University Psychology professor and author of Mindset: The
New Psychology of Success encourages people to reward effort in order to have a “growth mindset” one that understands effort, not talent leads to achievement. Growth mindset helps children feel good that they tried, even though they have yet to achieve the goal. Dweck did not teach stop at “Great effort; you did your best.”
Some educators, who endorsed growth mindset did not follow through on classroom practices. Dweck’s response is “The growth mindset was intended to close achievement gaps, not hide them.” The same is true for removing barriers in the work environment. Remove a barrier, don’t change the expectation.
Wakeman encourages managers and leaders to compensate value,
not effort. She promotes compensating your employees in direct proportion to
the value they deliver, not their effort or their daily tasks or hours
invested. Managers who bend over backward to make life easy for employees may
be enabling entitlement. If you have an entitled workforce, ask yourself how
you are reinforcing it.
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