Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's not me, it's you. No wait, actually it's us.

If I haven't said it before, that Sharlyn Lauby over at HR Bartender is right on the money!

Today on her blog post she included a venn diagram of the Ideal Employee Trifecta: Motivated, Happy and Engaged. Each are separate entities yet each relate to one another.

Then I read a post on the Switch and Shift site about a manager who advocates for employers to engage only the productive "goal scorers."

I have issues with this.

First I think about all the goalies and defense men that would disagree with the idea that only goal scorers are productive...

Next I wonder how a team would maintain motivation and productivity if the coach were to only mentor the goal scorers. Isn't that called favouritism? And isn't that one of the most effective ways to break team morale, heighten employee disengagement and crush productivity?

And then let me confess that I used to teach kindergarten and if I had ever said to a parent, "I'm sorry, I'm not coaching or mentoring your child because she is not a goal scorer." I would have been blacklisted by the PTA and all the parents in the community.

Despite all this, I understand the Switch and Shift author's concern. He wants to make sure we're accounting for productivity in addition to engagement. Employees on his team have to prove their goal scoring value before he'll consider coaching and engaging them. This is the "you go first" mentality; a.k.a "It's not me, it's you."

But on Sharlyn team she knows that as the leader, she signed up to be at the front of the line and that means she goes first. She suggests we "let employees own their career."  So she takes responsibility as a leader and seeks to remove the dis-empowering actions that sometimes exist in management. She recognizes that it may not always be you, instead maybe just sometimes, it's us.

People are certainly responsible for their own happiness and it is up to them to bring their best, motivated and productive self to work. I would argue that most employees start out happy, motivated and engaged with a new job and that management's reactions to empowered, productive and engaged employees is what determines sustained employee engagement. Management can fail to leverage their staff's talents or coach and mentor them to the advantage of the company. Management can remove barriers to productivity or disregard initiatives and innovations their team suggests about how the work could be done better, faster, cheaper, etc.

So it's not only you. And it's not just me. It's US.

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