12 Jan One Simple (Missing) Word

The most common expectation I hear from CEO’s these days is “accountability.”   They want more of it, which infers they don’t think they’re seeing enough of it.  The owners and leaders want their people to be more engaged, committed, and to have an ownership mentality with customers.  The folks being asked to do more with less believe they’re working for people who simply don’t trust them.  What I hear from those in the middle is they simply want to know their leaders care about them, are committed to their success, and trust them to do the right thing. They perceive a high degree of command and control, and less flexibility with regard to telecommuting, flexible schedules, and “face-time.”  The absence of trust is a major cause of dysfunction, and a reason many corporate cultures are in disarray.

Simple WordWe’re about to have five generations in the work force:  Traditionalists, Boomers, X’ers, Millennials, and Gen Z.  Look at how people interact via social media.  It’s fluid, collaborative, innovative and fast.  It reflects the market in which we live.  Much has changed in the past few generations, yet we’re still managing like our industrial revolution forefathers.

We know intrinsic motivators like achievement, recognition and the work itself are what creates an engaged workforce.   It requires little in the form of compensation, but does necessitate managers articulate the purpose and “why,” and work closely with their teams.  We know people support what they help create, and getting people to have a hand in “how” the works gets done goes a long way to talent retention.

Kevin Kruse wrote a great article recently recapping multiple studies that demonstrate engagement must precede results.  If we want people engaged, committed, with an ownership mentality, then an environment of mutual trust must precede an environment of shared accountability.  And the results will follow.

Tasha Eurich wrote an outstanding white paper dispelling many of the myths regarding millennials.  I encourage today’s leaders to take a step back, reflect, and take Gary Hamel’s advice to reinvent management so trust prevails followed by engagement, innovation and unprecedented outcomes:

Nevertheless, I do have a dream. I dream of organizations that are capable of spontaneous renewal, where the drama of change is unaccompanied by the wrenching trauma of a turnaround.  I dream of businesses where an electric current of innovation pulses through every activity, where the renegades always trump the reactionaries. I dream of companies that actually deserve the passion and creativity of the folks who work there, and naturally elicit the every best that people have to give. Of course, these are more than dreams; they are imperatives. They are do or die challenges for any company that hopes to thrive in the tumultuous times ahead—and they can only be surmounted with inspired management innovation.

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