Candid Conversations with Leaders

By: Chad Wilson | CEO

Bad bosses. They are costing us a fortune.

The latest Gallup State of the American Workplace Report provides some insight to a particular phenomenon in the work place most know and have experienced firsthand. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are still experiencing it today. Though considered one of the most destructive activities any company can fall into, we continue to perpetuate this activity and simply talk about it behind our manager’s back. The experience is working for a bad boss.

The report’s startling result is that 20% of our workforce is “actively disengaged” and a staggering 50% is “not engaged.” Now think about this… 7 out of 10 of your coworkers are not engaged in their job. SEVENTY PERCENT of the company’s workforce is simply wandering along and most likely doing just enough of their job to maintain their employment. That number alone raises a full range of emotions and has spurred this topic for discussion.

I see two ways to approach the issue: One from an individual perspective and the other from a company leadership position.

Let’s make this personal

Let us look at you, the individual in an organization. Are you happy in your job? Do you actually wake up in the morning and want to go to work? Do you look forward to tackling the tasks of the day? Do you enjoy engaging with your manager? If you do, congratulations! You are one of the top few who are engaged at work. If not, then I have a simple question for you… Why?

Let’s be candid here. There are some real idiots in the workforce and, today, someone is having to deal with them. Most people, unfortunately, feel like they are trapped in a role and continue doing what they always do. Or they accept the fact that they work for an idiot, expecting that someday someone around the office is going to wake up, recognize the incompetence of the individual and fire them. More often than not, these incompetent ones receive promotions.

Essentially, it is your responsibility to address this issue. If you don’t feel like you can do anything and you are opting to play the waiting game, I could say stop reading right here. But I won’t. Reality is that there is only one person who is responsible for your happiness – You! Now do something about it.

If you do not like what you do for a living, then you have a much bigger problem to address. It is time to start examining your life at a more profound level to try to identify what actually makes you happy. A great place to start is with a mentor. Discussions with family and friends may also help you identify what does make you happy. With this information, you have the first step for progressing forward.

If you enjoy your work and have issues with coworkers or managers, there are very basic things you can do to correct your situation to be happier and more productive. Look at the overall picture in relation to what is out there in the world. Are you working for a large global corporation or a small independent organization? Have you worked for both types? Do you prefer one over the other? Do you have aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder, or are you happy having a place where you can enjoy what you do? Build a checklist of all the things you need or desire in a role, then you can begin working on a plan to make that your reality.

In any scenario, you are the sole stakeholder in determining your happiness. There are always outside influences in our lives but, at the end of the day, it still boils down to your responsibility.

If you are a leader, sit down. We need to talk

Do the math. Your company is running at only 30% capacity. Not only is this costing you and your company money and productivity, it also means that you are one of the idiots. If you think you are not one, then I would also point out nobody is running at 100%. So let’s talk about how to balance the company’s efficiency.

The report tells us that an engaged workforce has almost 50% fewer accidents and 41% fewer quality defects and, as an average, have far less healthcare costs. We can formulate a result from this and say that bad managers are actually driving up the healthcare costs, globally. If you think about this, it almost seems insane that no one is addressing the issue. All of this inefficiency is costing the US an estimated 450 – 550 billion USD annually.

It has been my experience that most leaders promote or hire people that have either met a check list of criteria or have a skill set that they think fits a role. Yes, occasionally they hire friends and family, but are they leaders? A majority of them, unfortunately, are not. As a decision maker in your organization and, I hope, as someone who takes pride in their work, you are responsible for identifying the weakest or worst leaders in your organization and correcting the problem. There are degrees of correction that require you to own this activity and ensure the people you have placed in these roles are performing at their peak.

Not everyone is a born leader. Some individuals respond well to leadership education and training. If your company provides this type of support, do ensure your leaders are taking advantage of the opportunity to further their skills. If you are a small organization, you, of course, are responsible for individually mentoring and supporting your leaders to promote their development and learning. The common denominator is you. You are the one who must take ownership to ensure it is addressed and correctly implemented.

Talking with your Human Resource department is a great place to start. Engage your mentors, talk to your peers or open up discussions via LinkedIn or other social forums. Our failure as leaders is costing everyone, and it is our responsibility to meet this challenge and define the solution. Our bottom line demands it.

As an individual and/or a leader, what are you waiting for?

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