As my wedding anniversary approaches, I’m reminded of the day I proposed. It was awkwardly cute and simple. As the words were coming out of my quivering lips, millions of things were rushing through my head. Thinking well beyond how she would answer, my thoughts were centered on how I would fulfill the promises that I was making by asking that weighted question, “Will you marry me?”
What I was really asking was:
- Do you trust me to attend to your needs?
- Will you allow me the opportunity to have your back?
- Can we freely share ideas in efforts to find the best solutions?
- Will you build something great with me?
- Can we fight to make things work, even when it’s hard?
And by saying yes, we made commitments to one another. Daily commitments to stay engaged with one another for life, not just until the wedding day.
After our employees say “I do” to us and our organization, do we stay engaged?
After The Honeymoon
How much work are we putting into ensure our employees still have that warm, fuzzy feeling after they begin working for us? After all of the courting, are we paying enough attention so that our new partners don’t feel relationship buyer’s remorse and second guess their decision. The five questions above should be asked in business relationships also because when employees begin to doubt, they are distracted easily…when employees are distracted, it’s hard for them to trust…when employees do not trust, they feel alone and unsupported…when employees do not feel supported, they no longer share ideas or contribute…when employees no longer contribute, they become disengaged and leave.
We ask and require employees to show us every day why they want to be here. They are made to prove it day in and day out, by:
- being creative and finding new solutions to our old problems
- showing that they care even when they’re tired, busy and burned out
- always showing respect, even when it’s not shown to them
Are leaders holding up their end of the relationship? While we are demanding, are we showing daily that we are just as committed?
Rocket Science It Ain’t
Just like marriage, we tend to overthink how to keep employees engaged. When trying to make huge impact statements, we often overlook the small, simple and necessary things.
Fancy gifts for a spouse are nice, but did you look in her eyes when you said “I Love You” this morning? Raises at work are great, but do you know when your employee’s birthday is, or that their parent is ailing, or that little Johnny plays soccer?
Flying your spouse around the world is wonderful, but on your way home, did you stop and pick up his favorite snack, not because he asked for it, but because you just knew that he would appreciate it. Telling an employee “Good Job!” is great, but did you sincerely show interest and MAKE yourself available as a resource while they were sweating over a project?
When you walked down the hall asking employees, “How was your weekend?”, did you actually take the time to listen to what was said or did you respond generically and hurry to your office?
Every day, leaders must make a conscious effort to be engaged with employees. From this initiated engagement comes employee engagement. Should they just be happy to be there and employed? Maybe, but we asked them to be there so we must do our part in helping to keep them committed.
R&B star James Ingram gave the charge back in 1981, “Love them today…find 100 Ways. Ask her to stay…find 100 Ways”. While finding 100 ways to show appreciation would surely take quite a bit of time, energy and creativity, in a literal sense it is meant to inspire intentional acts of engagement. We yield our best results when we lead on purpose and when we are habitually good to the people we employ. Aristotle put it best when he said, “We are what we repeatedly do….”. Are you repeatedly proving your leadership every day?