Would your employees fire you?

Part One of Two

The No. 1 reason why most Americans leave their jobs is the feeling they’re not appreciated. In fact, 65% of people surveyed said they received no recognition for good work in a previous year, according to Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, authors of How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life (2004).

According to newer Gallup research, what employees want most – along with competitive pay – is quality management. When they feel unappreciated and disapprove of their managers, they leave or stop trying.

Almost 25% of U.S. employees would fire their bosses if given the chance, and about 50% of actively disengaged workers would follow suit.

A Gallup Management Journal survey found that, of all 24.7 million U.S. workers, roughly 18% are actively disengaged. Gallup estimates the lower productivity of actively disengaged workers costs the U.S. economy about $382 billion.

Because of current economic realities, people may not be leaving their jobs. Instead, they join the ranks of the disengaged and become “missing in action.” It rests upon managers to learn better ways of interacting with the people on whom they depend.

3 Steps to Positive Leadership

In 2005, results of a Gallup research study concluded managers play a crucial role in employee well-being and engagement.

Five years later, most leaders are acutely aware of the costs and benefits of engaging their workforce at all levels. Active employee engagement has strong linkages to key business outcomes, including retention, productivity, profitability, customer retention and safety.

But the Gallup research didn’t study what managers did (their specific behaviors) to elicit positive responses from employees.

That’s why Margaret Greenberg and Dana Arakawa put the theory of positive leadership to the test. Greenberg is president of The Greenberg Group, an executive coaching/consulting practice in Andover, CT. Arakawa is a program associate at the John Templeton Foundation of West Conshohocken, PA. Both are graduates of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Greenberg and Arakawa wanted to know if managers who apply positive leadership practices have teams with higher project performance and employee engagement, as compared to teams led by managers who don’t apply these practices.

Based on a great deal of previous research, positive managers practice these three leadership behaviors:

  1. Use a strengths-based approach
  2. Provide frequent recognition and encouragement
  3. Maintain a positive perspective when difficulties arise

Past studies have shown these practices have a direct effect on employee engagement, and each is an observable and testable behavior.

None of these characteristics are innate, but all can be learned. Very few executives intuitively know:

  1. How to work with people’s strengths
  2. How to automatically give frequent credit where due
  3. How to respond with your best game face when the going gets rough

Tomorrow I will focus on each of these areas.


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