“Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them. I never won a game. They did.”
Eddie Robinson, College Football Hall of Fame
If you paid someone $30 an hour to do a job, and he or she gave back only $10 of effort per hour, what would you call that?
From my point of view, I would call it not only sad and unprofitable, but I would also call it immoral cheating and stealing … which it certainly is, on the employee’s part. But those words don’t tell the whole story. When an employee is not performing to his or her peak capacity, it almost always has something to do with the supervisor, manager, or senior leader.
In a 2012 study of 1500 workers between the ages of 18 and 61, nearly half or 49% who said they were “satisfied” with their direct manager also felt “engaged” in the workplace. In other words, they gave it their all. They did their best to do their best.
However, of those workers who said they were “very dissatisfied” with the boss. 80% of them reported feeling “disengaged” at work. They did just enough to get by and just enough to keep out of trouble. You could say they were leeches on the company, the company profits, the company morale, and all of their teammates.
Just be careful of pointing fingers. It would be easy to conclude that these “disengaged” workers were the cause of so many of the problems at work. But don’t forget, these employees were “disengaged” because of some things the supervisors, managers, and leaders did or did not do.
In that 2012 study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training, Chief Operating Officer David Fagiano concluded, “Engagement increases dramatically with four variables: enthusiasm, confidence, empowerment, and inspiration. If as a supervisor you can instill those, your employees can really outperform for you.”
Indeed, that is the essence of the second day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program. It’s all about HOW you get the best out of other people … whether that be your employees, your coworkers, your customers, and even your friends and family. As Donna McNeely, Senior Vice President at the Investment Centers of America, said, “So much of what Dr. Zimmerman teaches at the ‘Journey’ is common sense but is not commonly applied. Before the ‘Journey,’ I had no idea HOW to articulate and implement the mechanics. Now I do, and it works like magic.”
To those of you consider yourselves to be “old school” leaders, to those of you think all this emphasis on the soft skills is a huge waste of time, let me warn you. If you don’t learn to engage your people and instill these four emotions, you’ll end up with a company that pays its workers just enough so they won’t quit, and you’ll end up with workers who do just enough so they won’t get fired. And let me tell you, you don’t want that.
To get the best out of other people, you have to focus on more than getting the job done. No! No! No! That’s merely the end result. To get to your desired end result, you must FIRST engage your people … which means you’ve got instill these four emotions.
First, to get the best out of other people, you must generate…
It’s true in many aspects of life, including work, home, and even sports. During a rocky 2009 season, Mark Mangino, the head football coach at the University of Kansas, was the target of lots of negativity and internal allegations. And he was ultimately fired at the end of the season.
During a tough stretch of time where he was taking a media-beating toward the end of the season, he was asked if he had a bad week. He replied, “Let me tell you something that’s really important that’s on my mind. I have a player, D.J. Marshall, who’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a cancer center. He just started his chemotherapy this week. That’s called a bad week. I’ve had a great week.”
That’s putting things in perspective. That’s keeping the enthusiasm contagiously alive. And if you as a leader can model enthusiasm, there’s a good chance your fellow teammates will catch the same spirit.
Joe Torre, a 9-time All Star baseball player, commented on that. He said, “During my eight years as a player with the Braves, I was fortunate to hit behind baseball’s all-time home-run king Hank Aaron. One day Hank and I were talking about batting slumps when he made a comment that has stayed with me ever since. ‘Each at-bat is a new day.’ I’d take it even further. We don’t just have the opportunity to start fresh each day. We have the opportunity to start fresh each moment. In baseball, a hitter mired in a slump can belt a home run on any pitch.”
Once you’ve got the enthusiasm going, you need to instill…
During his 29-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry won 5 NFC titles and 2 Super Bowls, and twice he was named the NFL Coach of the Year. So you can be sure he knew a great deal about engaging his team and turning them into winners time after time.
One of his winning secrets had to do with confidence. He said, “Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence. They need to see how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”
You also build confidence in people by believing in them. In fact your confidence in them often precedes their own self-confidence, but once they grasp that confidence, great results follow.
Lou Holtz, the great football coach at the College of William and Mary, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Notre Dame, proved that time and again. He says, “People perform to the level expected of them. Because I demanded nothing short of greatness, the players elevated their performance far beyond anyone’s expectations.”
When you’ve got your people filled with confidence, then it’s time for…
Many leaders don’t fully understand the meaning of empowerment. Neither do many parents for that matter. They tend to be too strict or too lenient. And extremes of either sort can be deadly to leaders and killers of engagement.
By contrast, effective leaders know how to motivate the best in others. They know when it is time to “loosen up” or “tighten down.” They know when it’s okay to make the decisions and when it’s okay to empower others to make the decisions.
Trevor Adcock, a leader at Toyota-UK, learned that when he attended my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program in Manchester, England. He wrote, “From your program and my work with Toyota, I learned that I should treat my employees as if they were my children. And if you actually think about it and practice that, you behave very differently toward them. As you well know, you would never let your children fail. So why would you ever let an employee fail? You wouldn’t. You learn to empower them to take on as much responsibility as they can handle.”
Homer Rice, who was the head coach at the University of Cincinnati and several other schools, understood that. He taught, “You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward, but both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation.”
Empower your people to make a decision and the engagement factor in your organization will go through the roof.
Finally, with enthusiasm, confidence, and empowerment working for you, you move on to …
At some level, everybody wants to make a difference. As author and Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote, “Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will at least be a little different for our passing through it.”
Leaders who truly engage their teammates know about this inspiring power of purpose. Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, says, “You have to communicate with your workers and make sure they understand that what they’re doing means something. We still tell our employees what we always told them: ‘You’re delivering the most important commerce in the history of the world. You’re not delivering sand and gravel. You’re delivering someone’s pacemaker, chemotherapy treatment for cancer drugs, the part that keeps the F-18s flying, or the legal brief that decides the case.”
Pia Sundhage, the head coach of the US women’s national soccer team that won two Olympic gold medals, said it beautifully. She said, “The name on the front of the jersey is much more important than the name on the back.” In other words, inspiration that leads to engagement is so much bigger than personal recognition. It also involves an everybody-wins factor.
The research is in. When employees are dissatisfied with their bosses, they will be disengaged and your company will suffer. But when you engage your people by spending some of your time and energy focused on these four key emotions, everybody wins.
Action: Of the four emotions (enthusiasm, confidence, empowerment, and inspiration), which one are you best at instilling in others? How can you teach that to others? And which of the four emotions do you need to get better at instilling in others?