Lead to Community

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Mike IsaacsonBy Mike Isaacson, SVP, Operations, VGM & Associates

I was talking to a friend the other day who said he was thinking of leaving his job. This came as a surprise to me. I know he is good at what he does. In fact, he is one of his company’s highest performers. So, of course, I had to ask him why. His response spoke volumes— here is what he said:

Even though I continue to be successful, and I always hit my bonuses, there is just something missing. I like what I do...I am just not sure I like where I’m doing it. I have talked to my “leader” about it a few times and his response is always, “Well, you got a raise, right?” or “You’re hitting all of your goals and making good money though!”

My frustration isn’t about money, and he doesn’t seem to understand that. My concern is that there is a lack of connection here, no common purpose. I’m not in the leader’s spot, so I don’t  have all the information he has, but it sure would be nice to know how/why decisions are made, decisions that affect my day-to-day job and how I do it. Sure, I come in and I do my job, but I don’t feel like I’m a part of a community. I feel as if I’m just a cog in the machine and that if I leave tomorrow, they’ll just replace the cog.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m replaceable. After all, this place was here long before me, and I know it will be here long after I’m gone. But man, I just want to feel like I’m a part of something that’s more than just a paycheck or bonus.

That’s a lot to unpack. So, let’s look at each leadership challenge one by one:

Effective Communication

Your communication is only as good as the messages that are received. What I mean is, it doesn’t matter how well you think you are communicating—if your message doesn’t get across, it’s not working.

Make sure that you are asking questions, and more importantly, use “teach back” tactics. Ask your people to tell you what they heard. Touch base to make sure that the message is clear with them and they feel confident in what you are communicating to them.

Making a difference

Connecting People to Mission, Vision, and Values

Regardless of how good your compensation structure is, people need to feel they are making a difference. We must connect people to the mission of our organization, the “why” of our work, no matter their role in the company.

When days get challenging and pressure-filled, a paycheck will not keep people focused on quality service. A raise they got a year ago has lost all motivation. On these days, the mission of the organization must be known, celebrated, and acted upon. The “why” of the work must be a consistent and central theme for each person in your organization. 

Part of a larger community

Creating a Community

The only thing that being stranded on an island is good for is to make a blockbuster hit starring Tom Hanks. For the rest of us, feeling a part of a larger community serves as motivation. It’s a source of strength when times are hard and of pride when we celebrate wins. As a leader you must create a community. Hold workplace gatherings, small stand-up celebrations, and bring people together to share challenges and successes as a group.

This doesn’t have to be an expensive, elaborate event. It can be quick snapshots of progress, meaningful discussions on your way in to work, or even the last 10-15 minutes of scheduled meetings being set aside for shoutouts. Your team will follow your lead. Get off the island!

Developing an Ownership Mentality

Each of us has a job description that outlines the tasks and functions of our roles in the organization. These documents are great, but how many times do you suppose our folks pull that out of the file and look at it?

Own their roles

As a leader you should allow people to own their roles and to truly feel the sense of freedom that comes with being a vital part of your organization’s success. This will keep people excited about work they are doing, invested in the positive outcomes that they can create, and, ultimately, create an ownership mentality that will take the company to the next level of success.

Lesson for Leaders

Money is nice, but there is more to job satisfaction for our folks than the dollar. Lead to a bigger picture, lead to create connection, and lead to a feeling of community.

Ask yourself now and each day:

“What am I doing today that will create a better place to work, learn, and grow for all of my people?”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

VGM Playbook Business Planning and LeadershipThis article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Business Planning and Leadership. To read the full article and more like this, download your copy of the Playbook under Resources in the myEW portal. 

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