Carrots and Sticks Don't Work

Imagine if you could: 

  • Create massive emotional commitment among all your direct reports
  • Turn apathetic groups into high performance teams exhibiting huge discretionary effort
  • Be a leader who people fight to work with
  • Win a "Best Place to Work" award within 12 months

Indeed, you can do all that and more, and it doesn't take a lot of time or a big budget.

Builds respect and dignity into everyday work life

Nothing is more important than to harness the loyalty, discretionary effort, and commitment of the workforce through respect.

Traditional employee satisfaction surveys make three assumptions that just don’t hold water.

Wrong assumption #1: Every employee response is equally important.

Wrong assumption #2: Every employee opinion is credible.

Wrong assumption #3: Engagement alone drives results.

What Cy Wakeman says are prudent words of caution on Engagement Survey. Helps overcome emotional excitement and bias. Let’s put a stake in the ground and change the way we approach employee engagement, starting with these five practices.

Don’t treat every opinion the same. Listen to what your top performers tell you. They’ve proved their value and earned their credibility, so go ahead: play favorites. Spend less energy on the demands and complaints of your worst employees? (You know the ones – resistant, hard to please, full of excuses.

Insist on personal accountability. Allow employees to see themselves as architects of their own circumstances, not victims. Challenge them to take on more responsibility, and hold them accountable for the results. By replacing a sense of entitlement with a sense of empowerment, you make them bulletproof – capable of handling anything that comes along. Note: this only works if they know you care about their growth and development

Employ quid pro quo. Employees have gotten into the habit of making requests. Maybe they want flex hours or a bigger office or a free lunch every Wednesday. You, as a manager, also need to get in the habit of making requests. In response to the next employee who makes a request, turn the tables and ask, “What are you willing to do to get that?”
Foster a “Yes” culture. Companies are not democracies. We do not vote on decisions. There are people who get paid to make decisions and people who get paid to implement those decisions. Buy-in is not optional. Once a decision has been made, employees should use their expertise to manage the risks and make it work.

Stop trying to create a perfect workplace. There will always be change, conflict, challenges, disagreements, discomfort and frustration in the workplace. And that’s good news! As it turns out, humans can’t be happy and engaged without struggle and strife. Without obstacles and mistakes, we never feel a sense of accomplishment or grow on a personal or professional level. So, instead of removing all these healthy hurdles for your employees, empower them to make the leap. It’s better for them and for the company.

If you must conduct an engagement survey, try one that factors in a certain level of accountability.  Don’t just take the word of the vast majority – many of whom work to collect a paycheck not to add value.