Start with the end in mind.
We talk a lot about engagement, what it is and how to drive it. Yet we often wait until employees are fried, tried and lied to and then wonder why they're not engaged.
Let's think about this differently.
PS, if you're still wondering if engagement is real and a good thing the answer is yes.
Long ago I learned in Sourcing 101 as soon as someone was hired to reach out with open arms, remind them why they were so good and mine the hell out of their personal contacts for other potential hires.
Disingenuous? No way: we really cared about them – that's why we hired them. But I realized people never love you so much as they do on their first day: you strike while the iron's hot, acquire names and keep on sourcing.
Power of Yes
Think about that for a second: people love us on the first day.
Recently in talking with Alli Polin (@AlliPolin – http://breaktheframe.com) we were discussing how exciting it is to hear those magic words, “you're hired”!
Remember that? The affirmation and validation seared in your heart and head when someone touched you with those two small words? The power of yes.
So what happens to this power?
Loving work, loving coworkers, loving challenge, is a matter of choice. While purists abhor mingling love and work in the same essay I argue why not? If you're going to spend 50 hours or more a week engaged in pursuit I hope to hell you love it.
And the vast majority of newly hired people do. How do we sustain that?
Try three simple rules.
- Care about people always. You can't fake authenticity. Caring about people means looking beyond the obvious and really thinking about what matters. To each of them. Like motivation and situational leadership one size does not fit all. Caring for the people you work with means examining what compelled them to join you and how to build that. It also means removing managers who don't evidence that care. Of course its hard work – who said it would be be easy? Engagement isn't free, but its worth it.
- Listen, then speak. This simple rule will save you many many headaches. As humans we have an unequaled ability to create our own drama and trouble. The animal kingdom spends its time eating, sleeping, procreating and in general avoiding problems with neighbors. Humans have forgotten the last piece. Listen first. Listen second and third if you need to as evidencing care in an adult behavioral mode means it oftentimes better not to say anything. As Maya Angelou said, when people tell you who they are, listen.
- Assume good intent. People may disappoint you. But not often. Most people do the best they can every day if the culture is healthy. Sick, toxic cultures infect employees like parasites but that's another blog for another day. Assuming you're anywhere in the wide band of what “normal” is your people are trying their best. Using that as a starting assumption builds a foundation of respect and professionalism that quickly becomes a differentiator – something your people respond to. How good would it feel when you make a mistake knowing your boss believed in you? That she assumed good intent.
The excitement we feel when first hired need not fade, but like romance that turns to love can become stronger over time.
Saying the words, you're hired, doesn't end that affair – in fact, its just the beginning.