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The Leading Cause of Engaged Employees is Engaged Leadership

July 18, 2013

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leadership engagementIn 1959 Frederick Herzberg articulated his Theory of Motivation or Dual Factor Theory, describing the factors that created employee satisfaction and those that created dissatisfaction. Since then there has been a large body of study and results that confirm his findings. Gallup and other researchers use Herzberg’s factors to design their employee engagement surveys. Dan Pink’s work in discovering what motivates workers separately showed the validity of Herzberg’s work.

The relationship between satisfied employees and their engagement with their work is direct.

Anyone studying human resources, organisational development or organisational psychology will come across Herzberg’s theory.

However it appears that most leaders and managers in both private and public sectors remain ignorant about this long standing well evidenced theory.

The lack of employee engagement and productivity is possibly the most discussed subject in the workplace today.

Consider this:

The main Herzberg factors that cause dissatisfaction are the negative aspects of the following:

  • Company policy – onerous, petty, bureaucratic and overly protective or defensive.
  • The quality of supervision – the competency to supervise>
  • The relationship with one’s immediate supervisor – the level of trust and respect>
  • Workplace conditions – are they conducive to good work?
  • Salary – enough not to be an issue.
  • Relationship with peers – is there a healthy team culture?
  • Personal life – How are things at home?
  • Security – Do I know where I stand?
  • Status – Am I valued?

The main Herzberg factors that cause satisfaction are:

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • The Work Itself
  • Responsibility
  • Advancement
  • Growth

With the possible exception of only two factors listed above, the leadership is the most capable and responsible to ensure that the factors are present in a positive way.

What doesn’t get spoken about or measured effectively is the extent to which leaders are engaged as leaders.

When they are measured it seems they are measured for their management efforts, not their leadership efforts.

Management is about systems, process, resources and data (often deemed as results), whereas leadership is about enabling people to willingly do great work in alignment with the values and vision.

Most leaders are stuck doing management all day : doing strategy, spreadsheets, spin and self–imposed slavery to be blunt! They are not engaged with their people. They don’t spend enough time with their people. They don’t know their people that well. They certainly don’t know the extent to which the Herzberg factors are being positively or negatively experienced.

Having an engaged workforce must start with the leadership being engaged with the workforce.

Then performance can be improved and thus productivity and leading ultimately to the “holy grail” - sustainable growth and profit.

The challenge for the leader is to dedicate sufficient effective quality time to be with his or her direct reports, and to ensure that that practice flows on.

The secondary challenge is to know how to communicate as a leader, and how to ensure that the factors that cause engagement and satisfaction are being honoured.

Until leaders improve the quality and quantity of their effective engagement with their people, we will continue to complain about employee engagement and productivity.

It all starts from the top. It is the law of gravity.

Adapting and improving are what we really mean when we talk of change.

Isn’t it time leaders adapted and improved their leadership engagement to ensure their people are engaged and performing highly?

What will you do about that?

©2013 David Deane-Spread

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