Employee engagement is one of the focal points for improving business results. The notion of effectively shaping the employee experience is centered in improving engagement of employees to reduce turnover, improve productivity, increase accountability and achieve results.
But regardless of all the research that abounds on improving engagement, it is noteworthy that many organizations still do little to improve the leadership’s engagement the workforce. In your organization, is employee engagement the elephant in the room -- what everyone knows needs fixing, but no one will speak up? Or are you happy with the status quo?
If you really want to stymie employee engagement, here are 12 behaviors that will help you do just that.
1. Don’t attempt to offer a vision. You know what work your department needs to accomplish. There is no need to offer any kind of vision or purpose that people need to do what is expected of them. Each person should know the tasks they need to complete; don’t worry about helping people understand how what they do ties into a larger picture of what you are trying to accomplish and why. Too much information just muddies the waters and is distracting.
2. Don’t allow people to question your directions. The work that needs to be completed should be the only focus of people’s efforts. Just tell people to do what you want them to do and nothing more. You are not interested in any new ways of doing things. Tell folks to keep their heads down and meet the desired goals in the timeframes that are given.
3. Don’t interact on a personal level. Knowing people on a personal level is irrelevant to the job. You don’t want to deal with people and their personal lives, and they don’t need to know anything about yours. You don’t have time to learn about what is important to people. Your focus is getting the job done and meeting the demands of your customers. Taking time to get to know people personally is a waste of time and detracts from the work at hand.
4. Don’t worry about being confrontational. Don’t hesitate to call people out in front of their peers and ridicule or criticize their performance. Sometimes a little fear is a great way to focus people and create a sense of urgency to get things done. When you call people out, others will step up their performance out of fear of thinking that you may single them out the next time around.
5. Don’t be afraid to let your true feelings show. When things begin to go awry or when people don’t meet your expectations, you should feel free to express your negative emotions with all of the intensity that you can muster. Keeping your emotions trapped inside of yourself usually doesn’t work very well. They will come out sooner or later, so you might as well let them loose. Feel free to yell, scream, call people names and use profanity. All of these behaviors will serve to get people’s attention and let them know their lack of performance is totally unacceptable.
6. Don’t give others credit for their work. You are the manager of a team or work group that you are responsible for. When they don’t perform, you are the one who is usually called on the carpet, so when they do perform well, you should naturally take the credit for what they do. If you are responsible when goals aren’t met, then it is natural that you should get the credit when the desired goals are achieved. This is what you need to do to get ahead and secure your annual bonus and your position. You know that organizations reward results, so you should get the credit for the results that you are responsible to achieve.
7. Don’t express appreciation. People don’t need to be recognized or appreciated. All of this verbal praise becomes meaningless if you do it all of the time. People are paid for what they do, so don’t worry about expressing any kind of verbal appreciation or recognizing them in any other way. The financial rewards associated with their work is reward enough.
8. Don’t allow people to do other than what they do best. No need to provide any kind of growth or developmental opportunities. You don’t want people leaving or looking for a reason to leave your department. Once they have learned how to do what you need them to do, you want them to stay put and just do their jobs. Besides, growth opportunities take time and cost money that you would rather not spend on skills that may not be applicable to the work that they do.
9. Don’t help people solve their problems. Sometimes people get stuck in the work that they are supposed to know how to do. Tell them to solve their own problems rather than coming to you when things don’t turn out as they should. Making them learn from their mistakes will make them produce and will improve their critical thinking skills.
10. Don’t offer feedback. The whole notion that people want or need feedback is overrated. The best feedback is the results that people receive from the work that they do. Tell individuals to take stock of what they do and change what they need to in order to get better results. They shouldn’t have to be checking in with you to know how they are doing.
11. Don’t take time to meet one on one. Taking time to meet with everyone individually takes too much time. It is much more efficient to meet with the whole group. Giving directions is more effective this way because everyone will hear what you are saying at the same time. Everyone will be on the same page, and if they have a question, they can ask each other.
12. Don’t encourage people to work together. It is better if people just focus on doing their work without distraction. All this getting together to collaborate is a waste of time. Decisions in groups often take too long and are often not made at all. Keep people focused on their specific goals without involving others.
If this is the way you lead your team, I can guarantee that turnover will be high, productivity will be lower, morale will be in the tank, and you will not get the results that you desire. Simply take each point above and remove the word “don’t,” turning the suggestions into a positive statement of what you should be doing to increase employee engagement. Doing so will positively shape your employee’s experience and dramatically improve your results while helping people be successful, productive, and feel valued.
John R. Stoker is the author of “Overcoming Fake Talk” and the president of DialogueWORKS, Inc. His organization helps clients and their teams improve leadership engagement in order to achieve superior results. He is an expert in the fields of leadership, change, dialogue, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence, and has worked and spoken to such companies as Cox Communications, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and AbbVie. Connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.