Enlightened SMB leadership fosters employee ownership, accountability and responsibility for performance. That leadership provides opportunities for growth by providing employees with a strategic and operational sandbox for success, as well as failure. That environment is critical for SMB growth, expansion and sustainability.
The 2017 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report (opt-in required) continues to emphasize the importance of employee engagement in creating high-functioning workplaces. However, globally as well as in the US, overall employee engagement continues to be low, ranging from 10 – 33%.
It doesn’t have to be that way. When small to midsize business (SMB) employees are responsible for owning their respective roles, the workplace quickly transforms into something other than the same old.
When employees do not engage and own their roles, SMBs get stuck.
Do these three scenarios sound familiar?
Within many SMBs that I’ve worked with, even the most complacent order-taker employee has a spark of insight and innovation. They are ready to own their role, move beyond their comfort level, and assume risk, responsibility and collaborative success. Yet these potential future leaders often are underappreciated and unencouraged by command-control leadership. Subsequently, either personal productivity drops as they disengage from the workplace or, more frequently, defect to a competitor.
Other SMBs hire extremely vocal and creative staff. However, while the staff has great ideas, they also are not very interested in being held accountable and responsible for their actions. In addition, weak leadership does not hold them accountable. As a result, a high level of waste, rework and competitive angst often requires leadership to assume tasks these employees do not want to own. At that point, who is working for whom?
Finally, some SMB leaders purposefully under-hire to reinforce their own sense of leadership. As a result, the leader retains ownership of all the answers. However, issues arise when that leader does not have all the right answers to all the questions. Consequently, employees go rogue, making decisions on behalf of the company. Because employees are not confident in their leadership, the SMB is compromised.
Owning roles is key to employee engagement, no matter what size of business.
Think about it. A smaller SMB employee critical mass means it is easier to positively impact the engagement of 66% of unengaged employees.
- First, taking small but critical steps to leverage the engaged 33% of employees creates a more collaborative environment for current and new employees.
- Then, when the workplace focuses on co-ownership of input, throughput and output, each employee’s self-perception of value is fostered.
- Also, holes are poked in legacy departmental silos as a more horizontal concept of workflow is put into play.
- Natural employee leadership emerges which fuels tomorrow’s growth and sustainability.
How many of your employees understand and respect the integrated roles – and value – of their co-workers, managers and leaders?
According to Gallup, “one of the most important ways in which command-and-control leadership can stifle productivity is by denying employees the flexibility to gravitate towards roles and responsibilities that play to their inherent abilities.”
Shouldn’t that finding be common sense for enlightened SMB leadership? Are you an enlightened leader or an inflexible one? Isn’t it time to make some hard calls?
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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