Another Triple Play
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

In 2015 Patrick Lencioni wrote his book Three Signs of a Miserable Job. He quickly learned the title they had chosen for the book wasn’t the best, and he changed it to The Truth About Employee Engagement. I guess sitting in the office with a book titled Three Signs of a Miserable Job might cause a stir. I found this book sometime in 2016 and have used its principles in many classes and coaching sessions ever since. If we apply these three principles to our team, employee engagement will increase, and turnover will be reduced. Let’s take a look at three common pitfalls to avoid if you’re trying to lead an engaged team.

The first principle is related to anonymity. People need to be known for who they are and why they chose to work with us. Over time, intentional conversations will reveal the team member’s hopes, dreams, and beliefs. When people feel known and valued, feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin are released in the brain. The positive emotions translate into increased loyalty and help people open up and become more innovative. When team members feel anonymous, it’s difficult to foster loyalty and creativity.

Pitfall number two is irrelevance. People need to feel that what they are doing matters. Great leaders know how to connect even the most mundane tasks to a larger project or cause. Imagine watching a movie or TV show without any music. Imagine Star Wars without John Williams’ compositions. How about the shark attack in Jaws without the music to get us anxious? For our younger readers, what would Frozen be without Let it Go? Each part of each movie contributed to the success of the whole. It’s the same with all the tasks our teams are working on. Reap the rewards of your team members feeling like a relevant and meaningful part of the whole.

Lastly, immeasurability. Dopamine and endorphins are released when we see ourselves progressing toward the goal. We shouldn’t need someone else to tell us we are succeeding—we should be able to see the progress clearly ourselves. The same goes for our team members. When I was managing a manufacturing plant, I would encourage the team to check their productivity after the first hour of their day. If things weren’t running well, they had to ask for support in order to save the day. Their responsibility was to let us know when they had a problem. Our responsibility was to get things corrected as soon as possible. When we did, the day was saved, and they felt heard.

Proactively avoiding these three pitfalls will drive your engagement numbers and reduce turnover. What a winning combination. If you would like more information on this topic, grab a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Truth About Employee Engagement and Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last. They are well worth your time.