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November 11, 2014

Employee Engagement, Development & Retention begins with “WE CARE”

Another year comes to end, we start planning for next year. Leadership and HR in organizations will be burning mid night oil getting their talent strategy right to attract and retain talent. Great many presentations and surveys will be conducted. Countless hours will be spent discussing budgets and proposal for wage hikes, bonuses, retention pays and innovative HR policies to improve employee engagement and retention. Paradoxically CEOs, Business Leaders and CHROs will continue saying or implying– “I don’t care; we need to be best in class employers”. Same as when they say – We don’t care, we need this much revenue, this customer or account etc.

Couple of years back my Facebook status update read – “When I don't care, I don't care  ... But when I care, I don't care ....”. How many times we all feel or share this feeling? How many times we end up sharing similar feelings and thoughts in moments of joy, despair, frustration and anger? Even when we care about someone or something deeply more often we end up saying “I don’t care”.

No wonder these words come back to hurt us when a loved one says – no one cares, a customer  complains  - no one cares or an employee says (mostly in exit interview) – no one cares. At that point explaining all the benefits, help extended and marketing is worthless because bond of trust is broken. A Story of 3 best friends --- 1) Knowledge, 2) Wealth and 3) Trust They made great friends but, one day had to separate. They asked each other where they could be found if searched. Knowledge said: You`ll always find me in temple, church, mosque or a school. Wealth said: I`ll be found in palaces or with rich people. Trust was quiet. When asked again, he said: You`ll never find me once am gone!!

We create wonderful benefits, compensation plans and events launching them with much fan fare. Once dust settles after meetings, employee events and town halls all people hear is – “I/We don’t care”. Whereas first and foremost everyone wants to hear and feel is “We care”.

Let’s look at  the meaning of word “Care”. As a noun Care has two meanings

1)  “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.” Synonyms - safekeeping, supervision, custody,  charge, protection, guidanceresponsibility etc.
2) “serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk. Synonyms -  caution,  carefulness,   awarenessheed, attention,  attentiveness,  alertness,  watchfulness,  vigilance, circumspectionprudence, etc.

As verb Care means - feel concern or interest; attach importance to something and look after and provide for the needs of.

Imagine impact of people hearing someone say – “I/we don’t care”. It’s not about semantics; it’s about impact of repeated use of words and processes that communicate “we don’t care”.

Allocating huge resources, fancy ad campaigns etc will have no impact unless underlying attitudes and processes don’t change. (Transformation Challenges ......India way)
I am adapting from something we used during earlier part of my career, to train on listening skills, to help define how to CARE.

Concentrate “I see managers who look like 12-year-olds with attention deficit disorder, running around from one thing to the next, constantly barraged with information, constantly chasing the next shiny thing.”1 Nothing says “I don’t care” more than lack of attention. It’s simply disrespectful. Yet almost all of us are guilty of not paying attention to our colleague, customer and loved ones on daily basis. Care means paying attention, being attentive and alert.

AcceptAccepting people as adults means paying attention to their ideas, thoughts and inputs. It means trusting them to be able handle good with bad, success with failure and so on (HOW: Retaining Leadership). Avoid perception to color your judgement, instead look for facts. Don’t mix up acceptance with agreement, more often people just want a fair and patient hearing. One can only protect and take care of something or someone they accept not something they are judgemental about.

ReflectWe talked about avoiding perception to color one’s judgement. How to do that? Constantly under pressure to juggle multiple priorities, we are mostly reacting to people and events around us. Reflecting on the events, communication and discussions allows us time and perspective to evaluate our actions. This may not be possible during the course of a meeting or work day. “Maintain a Stop doing list” but more importantly look at it every day and review your day against it. (Tips How to Focus and be Productive) Care means responsibility, watchfulness and prudence. Taking a pause to think about your response or to reflect on your actions and take appropriate follow up action demonstrates that you care.

Empathy - The ability to understand and share feelings of another. If you’re a leader, your whole reason for living is to help human beings develop—to really develop people and make work a place that’s energetic and exciting and a growth opportunity, whether you’re running a Housekeeping Department or Google. I mean, this is not rocket science.”1

You can’t care for someone without understanding how they think and feel. You can’t understand people unless you Concentrate, Accept, Reflect and Empathise.


You take CARE!!!

Warm Regards.


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1Tom Peters on leading the 21st-century organization, McKinsey Quarterly September 2014

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. However, this lack of employee engagement has been hovering around us for decades, ever since US manufacturers began sending production overseas, starting in the 1980's. The CEO's at the time never gave a second thought about what this would do to employee engagement as long as the profits and revenues were streaming in hand over foot. The result of this was increased profits, increased salaries and bonuses to CEO's and other major stockholders but to employees salaries and other aspects of compensation disappeared or remained stagnated. Only now that profits and revenues from these foreign locations are somewhat dwindling or in jeopardy are the CEO's concerning themselves with present employees engagement attitudes.
    By the way employee engagement is a politically correct terminology for employee morale. Please call it what it is.