Great Leadership: The Power of I’s

Guest post from Bob Nelson:
In
my new book, 1,001 Ways to Engage
Employees
(Career Press) I examine the top ten factors that most impact
employee engagement in order of their priority, according to a regression
analysis of 3 million employee surveys, and then provide specific real-life
examples of what each factor looks like in practice in successful companies
today.
Not
surprising, I found that one of the most significant drivers of employee
engagement is One’s Immediate Manager and
all aspects that make up that relationship between a manager and his or her
employees, that is, the bond that is created by effective leaders with those
they lead. 
The
best leaders demonstrate their long-term commitment to their employees through
the specific behaviors they display on a daily basis.  Better yet, the
most important behaviors leaders can do to develop and maintain motivated, engaged
employees tend to have little or no cost, but rather are a function of the
daily interactions that managers have with employees pertaining to work in the
context of each employees’ jobs.
I remember
some of the most important themes great leaders provide from the first letter
of the word, which I call “The Power of the I’s”:
Interesting and Important Work—Everyone
should have at least part of their job be of high interest to them. As the
management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, “If you want someone to do a
good job, give them a good job to do.” Yes, some jobs may be inherently boring,
but you can give anyone in such a job at least one task or project that’s
stimulating to that person. Name him or her to a suggestion committee that
meets once a week, or to some other special group. The time away from the
regular job is likely to be more than made up with increased productivity.
Information, Communication and
Feedback on Performance
—With presumed employment for life largely a thing
of the past, employees want more than ever to know how they are doing in their
jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Start telling them how the
company makes money and how it spends money. Make sure there are ample channels
of communication to encourage employees to be informed, ask questions and share
information. At least some of the communication channels should directly
involve management in non-intimidating circumstances. Soon you’ll have them
turning out the lights when they’re last to leave a room.
Involvement in Decisions and a
Sense of Ownership
—Involving employees—especially in decisions that affect
them—is both respectful to them and practical. People that are closest to the
problem or the customer typically have the best insight as to how a situation
can be improved. They know what works and what doesn’t, but often are never
asked for their opinion. As you involve others, you increase their commitment
and ease in implementing any new idea or change.
Independence, Autonomy and
Flexibility
—Most employees—especially experienced, top-performing
employees—value being given room to do their job as they best see fit. All
employees also appreciate having flexibility in their jobs. When you provide these
factors to employees based on desired performance, it increases the likelihood
that they will perform as desired—and bring additional initiative, ideas and
energy to the job as well.
Increased Opportunity for
Learning, Growth and Responsibility
—Everyone appreciates a manager who
gives credit where it is due. The chances to share the successes of employees
with others throughout the organization are almost limitless. In addition, most
employee development is on-the-job development that comes from new learning
opportunities and the chance to gain new skills and experience. Giving
employees new opportunities to perform, learn and grow as a form of recognition
and thanks is very motivating to most employees.
Behind all of these themes is a
basic premise of trust and respect and having the best interests of your
employees at heart. You will never get the best effort from employees today by
building a fire under them; rather, you need to find a way to build a fire
within them to obtain extraordinary results from your people.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D. is the leading authority on employee recognition, rewards and engagement in the world and has been named a Top Thought Leader by the Best Practice Institute. He has sold 5 million books on those topics, the latest of which is 1,001 WAYS TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES: Help People Do Better What They Do Best (Career Press).