Gallup is one of the most trusted in the field of surveys and statistics, so it is no surprise that when it comes to leadership, they have the inside track. The following may not be a surprise to employees, but leaders should take note! 

•    Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged
•    Only 21% of employees feel they’re managed in a motivated way
•    Only 29% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews are fair
•    Only 50% of employees know what is expected of them at work every day
•    Employees searching for new jobs or watching for openings 51%

So what does it mean? 


This statistic is worldwide, and for the U.S. the percentage of engaged employees is 33%, but what company would be proud of that?

Companies will always have disengaged employees for a wide variety of reason and engagement is not static, it is fluid. Who doesn’t feel more engaged one day over the next? 

Personal and organizational changes influence engagement. For example, as I write this today, in my current company I have had three different CEO’s and bosses in the last 18 months and everyone that was in my department when I started 22 months ago is gone. If that was an employee in your organization how engaged would they be? 


No punches pulled here. I believe motivation is found within but influenced externally. Out of sight is not out of mind when it comes to leading employees in a motivating way. Everyone wants to know how they are doing; good or bad. 

It is easy to point out what a person is doing wrong, and while accountability is important, it is so easy to de-motivate with critical feedback as opposed to using it as a learning opportunity to motivate for improved performance. 

Additionally, leaders need to be seen and engaged with employees on a regular basis. Again I will fall back to a personal experience of having a new CEO who came in with a great vision and during an initial all hands meeting said “…we will have these on a regular basis…” but then over the next  18 months, we were only graced with his presence once. 

Of course, this oversimplifies things considering the demands on a new leader who has to learn and understand how the new business he is responsible for works, but the lesson is that leaders set an expectation by what they say and then an example by what they do. 


Let’s not confuse understanding the organization or leaders expectations with knowing how to do one’s job and getting the day to day priorities done. What we are talking about here is vision, impact, measurable results and moving the proverbial needle. 

We all want to know what the end game is regarding what we are doing. Of course, some of that is simple when it comes to the day to day, i.e., pay invoices on time, make sure people get paid, vacancies get filled, etc. 

What employees want to know is, is that all that matters? Or do you want me to be looking for efficiencies, cost savings, perfection, etc. and the why. If the latter does not matter, just say so, because then it is clear that what is important is the function or transaction. Without the “clarification” employees are left to wonder if what they are doing is what is expected of them. 


The flaw here is that most leaders evaluate employees against vague, subjective goals but have little or no idea of what their employees do day in and day out. Couple this with the above-noted organization and leadership changes, and the fact that most companies don't train their leaders well in this area, it is impossible to fairly evaluate employees against the department goals, organizational objectives and their peers. 

I am neither a fan nor an advocate of the “Annual Performance Review.” I believe that if leaders have regular ongoing meetings with their employees that include discussion about expectations and performance, then there is no need for the “Annual Performance Review,” and thus there are never any 

For this to work, leaders must ensure that having “face time” with their direct reports is both a priority and a regular occurrence, i.e., no less than monthly. Monthly feedback gives leaders the opportunity to praise, provide direction and address any performance deficiencies. It also allows employees the opportunity to get clarification, share obstacle, roadblocks and ask for help while at the same time knowing where they stand about performance and expectations. 


Imagine half of your workforces looking for a new job; if that is not an eye opener, imagine half of your direct reports looking for a new job; in my case that it 2 or 3 employees. If you have not already heard it or read it, the number one reason employees leave is that of their manager. If they are looking, they are already not engaged.

The cost to organizations is enormous. Although a big part of the solution is noted above, simplified:


Know and understand the influencers of engagement and respond accordingly. This requires that you be engaged and present.


Be present, be engaged as a leader, and articulate the bigger picture and its value. Learn and understand what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates your employees.


Make sure employees know what is expected of them, be specific, and have them acknowledge understanding. Let them know what success looks like and what will happen if they don't meet expectations. 


Give feedback on a regular and consistent basis, more than “You’re doing a great job,” again, be specific. There should never be any surprises. 

If organizations are going to change those statistics, it is up to the leaders to not only take notice but take action.

[  "You don't need a title to be a leader - and having a title doesn't make you one."  ]



They may surprise you but not your employees

By Anthony T. Eaton   |   January 2018