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Are you spending more time, effort, and energy, to keep their interest than they are spending to turn interest into results?

If you are making excuses for why employees aren’t performing because your focus is on engagement, it’s costing you.  If you still hold them accountable while fostering a healthy interest in their own role and their own performance, this is the ideal solution. But, which do you really think you’re doing?

A quick Google search of “employee engagement” nets over 8 Million results, so clearly, engagement is a hot topic. The real hot question is are these efforts netting you even hotter results and higher levels of production? And if not, how do you fix that? There’s a good chance senior leaders would answer this question differently than front line management because of the perceived difference between coddling and nurturing team members. Yet, with these three ways to determine if your employee engagement comes at the cost of employee performance, you’ll be able to identify it, address it, and make small changes to keep employee interest without it costing a mint!

You Have No Time

It’s no secret that managers have limited time to complete their own work, especially when an employee problem is lurking. Heaven forbid you have more than one difficult team member if your midst! If that’s the case, you’ve got time for nothing else, but that feeling is dangerous. Your role as a leader is to be strategic, to think, and then to lead the team to execute and implement on the ideas and improvements and solutions you’ve either created or been given. If you have no time to exercise influence because you’re in the weeds in repeated discussions with someone over why and how, and if, they should show a real level of interest in their role, your focus may be in the wrong place. Focus on those doing their role exceptionally well. Focus on the performers and think of ways they could perform even better. Deliver swift and clear escalating consequences to those who are performing not so well and draw clear boundaries when it comes to the amount of time you allow yourself to be mired in drama and difficulty.

They Have Frequent Reasons

Let’s face it, usually in business and with reference to performance, REASONS are code for excuses. If the employees you lead are giving you frequent reasons for not getting their work done, you may have taken your own interest in their engagement a bit too far. If employees are consistently not meeting deadlines, giving you a litany of reasons why, your desire to keep them happy may be costing you plenty! This is where senior leadership, often with a bit of distance from you and your employee’s rapport or relationship, can spot and quickly identify coddling versus nurturing. Your role as a leader, of any level is to of course, connect with each team member, as well as set expectations for their performance. Doing what has been asked or something even better is the minimal expectation. Deviations from that require immediate coaching. The coaching will actually improve engagement by building their skills and indirectly then building their confidence. Letting them slide with their reasons for deviating only serves to distance them from engagement and reduce their actual performance for longer periods of time.

Others are Complaining

If you’ve been a leader for more than five minutes or even worked on a team with a problem employee on it, you know just how quickly the poor performance of one whiny, grumpy person can wreck performance for everyone. If others are complaining about the lack of production, results, quality, efficiency, or effectiveness of the role of just one person, there is trouble brewing. Ignoring this issue because you want to keep this employee happy is a mistake. Making your own set of excuses for this employee because you don’t like conflict or haven’t found a delicate way to tell them how far off track they’ve become, is a problem. Both actions may look like you’re a laid back leader who simply “let’s things go”, an admirable trait for a happy go lucky person, but both actions also show a disengaged leader who’s out of touch with whyy the numbers are really declining. How can you expect employees to engage if you’re disengaged from their problems? How can you expect performance to soar if you’re unwilling to address the team’s apparent barriers? If others are complaining with a consistent message, it’s time for you, the leader, to focus more on your own engagement and address the issue, even fix it, so everyone can get back to work.

Our focus in leadership can be compared to a pendulum swing. One year it’s all about being a certain type of leader. The next it’s about authenticity. The next it’s about employee engagement. The truth is these focal points take priority all the time and the art of keeping employees interested, while you’re serving their needs, and celebrating their high levels of performance, does take a bit of artful balance.  You can do this!

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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