The Center for Creative Leadership recently released a white paper called "The Leadership Gap: What you need, and don't have, when it comes to leadership talent." One of their most interesting (though unsurprising) findings from their research was "inspiring commitment" was the most needed skill among today's leaders.
Even the examples I've seen in well-run companies suggest there is room to grow. Supervisors often assume that a) employees naturally know what good performance looks like and b) employees are naturally inclined to do what's best for the organization. Neither assumptions are true, no matter how much we wish they were. It's no wonder Gallup routinely finds that nearly 75% of American workers are either disengaged or actively disengaged with their employers.
So, what's the cure? In my Getting Started as a Supervisor workshop, I guide supervisors through a three-step activity that can radically change the commitment of their employees. You can read about the steps below, or try it out with your own team by downloading this worksheet.
Step 1: Define organizational success. It's tempting to say "make money", but the real question becomes "how does the organization make money"? What type of business are you in? How would you judge whether you are any good at it? These are questions many employees don't think about, but knowing the answers can help them see the big picture.
Step 2: Create a team vision statement. How does your team contribute to organizational success? Every department has a role to play. Getting your team to understand that role will focus the "big picture" on what they do every day. Even seemingly mundane activities like accounts receivable can turn into "helping the organization achieve _______ by maintaining positive cash flow".
Step 3: Describe aligned behaviors. We've all put our hands in the circle and cheered "1, 2, 3, team!" Now, what? Employees need to know how their actions are aligned with organizational success and the department's vision.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
You've only just begun once you've walked through these three steps with your team. Now, it's up to you, the leader, to make this common purpose part of the day-to-day. It needs to be on the agenda for team meetings. You need to discuss aligned behaviors when giving employees feedback on good (and bad) performance. It should even guide how you prioritize your team's work.
Does this sound like a lot of work? Absolutely! And, if you are completely satisfied with your team's performance then by all means don't do this. However, inspiring a little commitment may just be the way get more performance from your employees than you ever thought possible.