I have been asked multiple times by managers as to how to know if their team members are fully engaged at the workplace. The answer is simple for me. Ask your employees if they are excited to come to work on a Monday morning. If the answer is yes, you have created an enviable work place. If the answer is no, you can ask them what they would like at the workplace so that they feel enthused and look forward to a Monday morning to come to work.
This may be true for kids as much it is for adults. I remember even twenty years back when my kids were in primary school, they were restless on Sundays since they were looking forward to go back to school on a Monday morning . When I asked them why, the answer was invariably that they enjoyed the company of their friends and the freedom and encouragement of their teachers.
I find it intriguing that managers find it difficult to unravel this simple truth. It could be because I have always been privileged to work with great teams and wonderful managers. I always eagerly looked forward to a Monday morning to get back to work. My work environment was always energising. It was not because of the physical comforts of the office. It was rather the emotional environment of the team with energy infused by my manager and other colleagues at the workplace.
I find most managers and leaders not even communicating with their team members. They find it difficult to walk around and have some fun with their colleagues. Even wishing back looks like a burden to them when their team members greet them in the morning. We do not lose any of our power or prestige by wishing people back when they greet us. Even the security guard at the office entrance is a human being and feels good when you politely wish him or her back in the morning.
Another interesting dimension is that managers are not able to understand that every individual in their team is unique. Some like public recognition while others may like it private. Some are more sensitive than others. We need to spend time with each of our team members to understand what energises them and accordingly mould our leadership style.
We also need to learn to break traditions. Why not have a party on a Monday morning at work rather than always on a weekend ? We need to spend time to create excitement at work for each member of our team. Every individual wants to excel and may do so if we provide the right impetus for them to do so. We cannot cut, copy and paste ways of dealing with people on everyone in our team. It is like every child at home is different, so it is at work. Everyone is a talent and may need to be harnessed to excel.
One of the simplest ways to communicate with your team is to share joy and sorrow. How often are we willing to share our lunch and spend time with them ? Are we at the hospital if a colleague falls sick ? Do we support a colleague to get over a crisis by being an emotional anchor ? These are small and simple ways of earning respect from our team members. It is neither too difficult to start nor to sustain.
Last but not the least is our fairness and authenticity with our colleagues at work. Do all our team members experience us as transparent and genuine leaders ? Authenticity has to be experienced through our actions every day. We cannot pretend to be so. It has to come naturally through our behaviour and actions.
Let us learn to lead by example.
S Ramesh Shankar
1st November 2018