I’m excited to be one of the expert speakers at the Lead to Engage Conference coming up in November. My colleague Scott Carbonara, and author of Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement did a quick interview with me that I want to share with you. Hope to see you there.
Q: You say in your book Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement that employees quit supervisors, not companies. Could you explain what you mean by that?
Scott Carbonara: The divorce rate in the United States hovers around 50 percent. Gallup research reports that 50% of all employees claim to have a poor, even miserable relationship with their immediate supervisor. Both marriage and employment are entered into voluntarily; conversely, both the marriage and employment contract can be broken, too, if the pain of leaving is less severe than the pain of staying.
Purdue University researcher Brad Gilbreath found one more parallel between marriage and work: a person’s relationship with his boss generates the same impact on one’s overall well-being as does a person’s relationship with a spouse.
Companies consist of brick and mortar, a mailing address, a logo, jobs, and a check-printing machine—physical, tangible things. Why quit that? Employees don’t. They quit relationships with supervisors they perceive to be moody, negative, cold, and impersonal. And, according to Gallup, the number one reason employees give for leaving is a poor relationship with the boss.
Workers look for other employment options when the pain of quitting is less severe than the pain of staying with a boss who sucks joy and well-being out of them.
Q: You mention in your book the importance of pairing tangible and social reinforcement. How does a manager do that?
Scott Carbonara: Years ago, a boss gave me a tangible gift, a gift card to a big coffee shop chain because it was well-known that I like my coffee. When I put his gift in my wallet, I found that I had four other identical cards! Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated that my boss gave me a gift card, but I can’t say that I thought of him when I used it, because it was no different from the others.
Another boss asked me to stand up at a meeting. He told everyone in that room about what a fantastic job I’d been doing on several fronts, and he ended by saying, “Scott, I don’t know anyone who can keep as many balls up in the air as you can. So I want to present you with these!” and he held up three, bean-filled juggling balls. Those inexpensive balls were also tangible, but my boss made the presentation social, too, by telling a story and making it memorable beyond the cost of the items.
I spent the gift card, and POOF! It was gone and forgotten. But those three balls remained on my desk for the next twelve years. And every time I saw them and juggled them, I thought of my boss fondly. By combining something tangible with something social, it became the gift that kept on giving.
Q: You also mention the importance of environment and creating a big winner circle. How does a manager do that?
Scott Carbonara: I’ll answer that by way of a negative example. If you have 100 employees, and yet you offer one award, like “EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH”, you’ve created one winner…and 99 losers. It won’t take long for those 99 losers to say, “Why bother? With 99 others in the game, the odds are against me.”
Find ways to make 100 winners instead of 99 losers. Awards don’t have to be huge or expensive, nor should they be rare and unobtainable. Create celebrations and strategic reinforcement efforts that allow everyone to win.
At the conference you’ll have the chance to meet the experts and talk with them up close and personal. Join me, Scott Carbonara, Sam Glenn and Dr. Doug McKinley at the Catalyst Ranch, Chicago’s premier venue for meetings and events.