Employee Engagement Reflects Leadership EffectivenessWhen our three kids were growing up I was — sometimes painfully — reminded of the old parenting adage; “children act like their parents despite all attempts to teach them good manners!” When Chris, Jenn, or Vanessa behaved poorly in public — if I took a deep look in the mirror — I could recognize their behavior. It clearly came from … their mother!

It’s often difficult to face up to the role we play in shaping the behavior of others we lead. In the workplace it’s easier to the blame the team member, organizational culture, declining work ethic, societal, or other factors. Those out-of-the-leader’s control issues do influence behavior.

Employee engagement has become a huge problem. Disengaged employees lessen customer service levels, have many more sick days, quit and leave, quit and stay, diminish quality and innovation, shrink productivity, weaken teamwork, and infect others with negativity.

Organizations looking to increase employee engagement will often examine pay and benefits, enhance working conditions, upgrade facilities or equipment, implement flexible schedules, provide childcare, focus on work/life balance, or offer training and development opportunities.
Google is an example of a company providing these and many more benefits to attract, engage, and retain their top talent.

A recent Harvard Business Review article reported on how “Google’s Project Oxygen” reduced turnover and increased retention. “The data also showed a tight connection between managers’ quality and workers’ happiness: Employees with high-scoring bosses consistently reported greater satisfaction in multiple areas, including innovation, work-life balance, and career development.”

In his latest Forbes column, “70% of Workers Aren’t Engaged – What About the Managers?“, Joe Folkman points out that we need to place the blame where it belongs. “Workers follow the lead from the person above them. Effective leaders produce engaged employees.” Joe’s column features a chart showing a sharp rise in engagement as leadership effectiveness increases.

Joe Folkman recently conducted a webinar on Seven Ways to Increase Employee Satisfaction Without Giving a Raise where he showed Zenger Folkman’s research on key leader behaviors that drive engagement.

Leaders often blame generational differences, unions, organizational rules and policies, waning work ethic, society/organizational culture, pay and benefits, and the like. But decades of engagement studies point to what we might call a leader’s adage; “employees act like their leader despite organizational attempts to engage them.”