Leaders, could you be sabotaging the return on your best investment?

Allow me to ask you a seemingly simple question: Would you spend the extra money to buy a color copier and only use black and white prints? Of course, you wouldn’t. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a poor investment of money. The same is true for employees. If employees do not obtain results and contribute at their highest levels, we do not receive a proper return on the single largest investment most companies make—employee salaries!

I write mostly about how to maximize employee performance, but today, I’m going to share with you what can absolutely shut down employee performance and how to avoid it.

It’s the epidemic no one talks about across ranks, but you can bet employees are talking amongst themselves. You see, if you disagree or even propose another approach some leaders see this as a direct challenge to their authority. In fact, you’re labeled a troublemaker, dissenter and nuisance..

In these cases there is likely one of two things happening, either the ego is in the way or these leaders are not in fact leaders, but figure heads placed to maintain status quo.

The ego scenario is more common and leaves employees with the sense that, if the idea wasn’t the leaders, it’s likely to be rejected. This “leader” wears their authority on their sleeve and any perceived threat to that authority (real or imagined) is reason to “put that employee in his/her place.” These leaders are performance killers!

The less common, placeholder leadership position is likely to reject anything new or different, because “this is how we’ve always done it.” They will seek to avoid conflict at all costs and even resort to non-responsiveness or passive aggressive behavior toward the employee(s) viewed as challenging the status quo.

Will top talent and especially next generation talent put up with a culture of compliance over creativity and impact? Consider for a moment we currently have 4 generations in the workforce: Seniors, Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. There are very few seniors remaining in the workforce. Yet, many boomers still remain due to a financial downturn and an effort to recapture lost investments. The boomers, also, still hold the majority percentage of leadership roles in companies. When we step back and consider the larger social influences and their impact to each generation, we are reminded just what this does to perceptions and ultimately how they lead.

The Senior demographic were dutiful and loyal. Boomers shared some of these characteristics, yet, later, went through a phase of questioning the corporate establishment only to have their questioning quelled by the enchantment of material items obtained through positions of authority and prestige. Next, we have the stereo-typically defined “question everything group” Generation X, who saw their parents downsized and became jaded with the corporate institution. Finally, we have the Millennials who grew up doing everything in teams and received trophies for participating and, yet, has no experience of life prior to digital technology. They are referred to as the “digital natives”.

One can see the very values typical of each generation create a variety of perspectives about the world around them. The perspectives if considered equally across generations would provide the value of diversity thought leading to adaptability to proactively meet, ever-changing client business demands across a new digital landscape.

What happens if the perspectives are not given equal consideration and influence, as is the case in many authoritarian-dominant structures? We are limited to operate through the lens of that one structure as defined by the current leader(s). In other words the “how” is pre-scripted to past experiences and we hear things like, “we’ve always done it this way”, a common perspective of the status quo “leaders” mentioned before. Additionally, the authoritarian style implies anything outside the prescribed is non-conformity and rightly punishable.

It comes down to this folks, where a dominant perspective is maintained in positions of authority which do not necessarily represent the views of the entire workforce, employee engagement is unlikely. When employees are not permitted opportunities to question, to grow and to seek new ways of doing then they effectively begin to shut down.

Leaders who do not permit questioning and alternative approaches or perspectives will reduce motivation and creativity; in essence, creating a culture of doing just enough to “fly under the radar” and collect a paycheck. The “color copier scenario” of not getting what you pay for plays out over and over in many organizations across the nation. Billions are being lost through disengagement of employees. Sadly, employee engagement levels are at their all-time lows and disengagement at its highest across the nation.

Hiring and paying smart, talented professionals and not listening to what they have to say is the color copier scenario, all over again. You’re not getting what you paid for!

Don’t wait any longer. You could be hemorrhaging money in disengaged employees. Now is the time to examine what are your disengaging systems and outdated modes of leadership that shutdown employee performance.

3 Steps to Avoid and Eliminate Employee Performance Shutdown:

Assess, examine and reflect on whether leaders’ behaviors are creating outcomes consistent with company purpose or mission as it relates to stimulating employee performance.

Create and clearly articulate a culture of openness, supported by policy. For example, promote and recognize creative thinking and innovation leading to greater efficiency and service.

Model dialogue. Be the example and demonstrate a willingness to have the “tough talks”.
Very simply, if you are in a leadership position and you cannot accept another opinion or viewpoint from employees without viewing it as dissent, then you are hurting the people under your stewardship and the organization’s revenue.

It pays to know!

By: Ryan McShane, President, HR Evolution LLC,  RyanM@marc3solutions.com

HR Evolution provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” with Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.

Contact Ryan to get the results that, elevate individuals and organizations to their highest potential.

View Ryan’s website at:  www.HRevolutionllc.com

Ryan McShane is the President/CEO of HR Evolution, LLC a consulting firm specializing in Human Resources, Leadership Development and Career Transitions Consulting. Prior to that, Ryan worked in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, learning the various cultural norms, principles and practices of each sector and applying that learning to create High Performance Leaders and Organizations today throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania. Ryan is also the immediate past president for the largest Local SHRM Chapter in the state of Maryland, Chesapeake Human Resource Association, (CHRA). Ryan’s professional affiliations include serving on the Board of Chesapeake Human Resource Association (CHRA), Board member and Membership Director of Hunt Valley Business Forum, a founding member of Conscious Capitalism- Central Maryland, a Member of York, PA’s local SHRM chapter, a Member of UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development (ISD) Advisory Board, and a former Member of the Boomer Council, an advisory council focusing on civic engagement and mature workforce strategies. Ryan is passionate about creating and leveraging existing tools and systems to enable both individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential through greater awareness and a conscious approach to workforce management, honoring all stakeholders, wherein equal consideration is given to People, Planet and Profit.