Part 1

Great "Business" Management is Not Enough
Part 1

As leaders, partners, principals, and owners, we generally leave a lot of money on the table and drive up costs with our lack of effectiveness in management and training.

When we think of improving, we often turn to “management”.  Depending on our industry, that can be “project”, “product”, “patient”, “claim”, “case”, “financial”, or “supply chain” management.   

It makes sense.  This is how money flows into and out of our organizations, and it seems like the natural location to recover lost dollars to add to our bottom lines.

Our version of effective contracting, timely monitoring, reporting, and invoicing, as well as holding the line on scope, schedule, and budget until we receive a change directive is essential.  However, this is really only a “fourth quarter” strategy.

Focusing solely on these management details today is also exhausting, requires almost perfect execution, and leaves too much to chance.

If we are looking for greater growth and profits, we need a high-level of management and business acumen for sure, but that alone is not enough.  To succeed today and moving forward, we also need an equally high-level of acumen for people and for mission. This writing centers on our people.  

Our Fundamentals Are Off  

Most organizations today are under-invested on the “talent side”.

The “Talent-Client” relationship is fundamental to business.  Without clients (or customers, patients, etc), we have no business.  Without talent, we can’t serve clients, and we have no business.

There is no way to separate them, and everything we do needs to support and enhance this relationship.  

The reality for most organizations, however, is that a much greater effort is spent on “client” development, engagement, and relationship management than on employee development, engagement, and relationship management.

We have historically relied on salaries, bonuses, and the prospect of a handful of employees being able to “one day rise to the top” as organizational investments and motivators.  These do not have the effect they once did.

Employee Engagement is Misunderstood and Fragmented

We all care about ourselves.  Over 40 years ago, Zig Ziglar reminded us that we are always dialed into the same radio station, WIIFM, the one that asks: “what’s in it for me?”  This is not a “generation issue”.

As leaders, we can’t be frustrated or complain about people who don’t automatically think or act like us.  The way we care for and act toward others is what will help change behavior. It is also what will make us different, better, and allow us to have greater influence.  

Employee engagement today is not about leaders or organizations, and it’s not just about projects, profits, salaries, and input.  Employee engagement is about an employee’s state of mind and being. More specifically, it’s about how a career, an opportunity, a leader, an organization, and a supervisor will help an individual win at both work and life.

To improve our success, we need to rethink and redesign our employee engagement strategy.  We also need to integrate aspects related to performance, perks, wellness, impact, teamwork, training, and growth.

To create a positive and high-performing culture, our best talent needs to want to be on our teams and with their leaders and supervisors.     

In order to enjoy the bottom-line benefits of lower turnover and absenteeism and greater productivity and profitability that result from well designed and executed employee engagement, we need a higher-degree of top-down awareness and action.

Our Managers Are Not Equipped and Don’t Have Role Models  

Whether through our lack of awareness, our busyness, or both, most managers learn how to manage “on the fly”, through “trial by fire”, or “in the school of hard knocks”.

This can sound admirable, even nostalgic, until we take time to see how this less than ideal approach manifests in our organizations, especially as we take note that:

  • The vast majority of managers continue to be promoted based on their technical skills.
  • Employees most often leave managers, not organizations.
  • The relationship with one’s direct supervisor is 70-percent of the variance on employee engagement.

Why would we as leaders and organizations leave so much to chance?

Why would we take the risk on more unplanned and costly employee turnover?

In addition to new training and redesigned incentive systems, “on-the-job-modeling” can be immediately effective in training our managers, while at the same time establishing our desired culture and a set of behaviors designed to help us all thrive.  

Culture, like business strategy, diversity, innovation, and sustainability needs to be owned and modeled by leadership.  It cannot be delegated, ignored, tabled, or left to chance if we want to succeed.

Do all your principals and leaders model what we desire in terms of culture and behavior?

Do they take time each week to connect with direct reports and engage in ways that drive results?

If we are not doing these, how can we really be surprised when results fall short?  

5 Steps to Take

To begin to design and implement our best “people strategy”, we can start with these five steps:

  1. Become more aware of what’s happening and why within our teams and organizations related to talent engagement and management.
  2. Care about culture and performance, desire to be different and better, and realize these are outcomes, not inputs or activities.
  3. Schedule a time this week and meet with each direct report.
  4. Learn more about your people.  Model what it means to leverage your skills and position to create organization, client, and talent alignment through a combination of coaching, mentoring, and helping to remove hurdles outside of their control… then repeat.
  5. Update and amend your strategic plan, training, employee engagement, and talent management systems to further expand their reach and your success.

Strong markets don’t last forever, and sustainable growth and success doesn’t happen by accident.  

To realize more success today and to position you and your organization for greater growth and profits in the future, we will need to augment our traditional management skills with higher levels of “people skills” through well-designed employee engagement and talent management practices.

Part 2 of this series focuses on how we can manage “mission” to further improve our success. Link to Part 2: Why Mission Matters

To your winning,

PS – Ready to enhance your leadership, management, employee engagement, and simultaneously increase your impact by design?  Check out our Fast Start Programs.

PSS – Click HERE… and then just sit back and listen to one of the most important chapters in “Reversing Burnout” for FREE.  Learn more about the realities of work and life today and how you can reverse and avoid the “Burnout-Disengagement Cycle”.

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with professionals and business owners to create greater growth and profits through more effective employee attraction and retention, impact, and branding.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in more relevant and effective ways.  For over a dozen years, Pete has also been serving in multiple capacities in the non-profit sector to achieve both local and global impact, and is a co-founder of the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Knoxville and the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Southern Maine.

For a more expansive biography and experience summary.

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Great “Business” Management is Not Enough – Part 1