Incentive - December 2009 - (Page 22)

STRATEGIES Morale-Boosting Leadership Leaders must focus on winning the workplace if they want to win in the marketplace By Jon Gordon he dark days of the recession have spawned a troubling issue that could cripple organizations as we head into recovery: the widespread loss of employee engagement. Tired of working more hours for less pay under the threat of termination, many Americans have mentally checked out of their jobs. They are simply doing what they need to do in order to hang on. Now is the time for leaders to focus on people, not numbers. While there are lots of numbers to worry about—investments, the bottom line, next quarter’s profits—it’s easy to become fixated on figures. Ultimately, an organization’s failure or success is determined by the mood, energy, thoughts, and behaviors of its people. Numbers are just indicators of how well people are executing. Culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits, and habits drive results. Leaders set the tone for how employees respond to almost every situation. Greet an employee cheerfully, and he’s likely to mirror that attitude. Leaders need to be humble and hungry, seeking to learn, grow, and improve, with a passion to work harder than everyone else. Now is not a time to be barricaded, but to be in the trenches with employees, leading and building. Practice positive leadership in the face of adversity. While it’s important to acknowledge the obstacles your organization is facing, don’t dwell on them in meetings or in individual conversations, and don’t bring up bad news before pointing out things that are going well. Employees are questioning how their jobs will be impacted. Uncertainty creates a void, and negativity will fill it. In the absence of clear and positive communication, people assume the worst and act accordingly. Leaders must personally meet with and continually communicate to employees. Make transparency the norm. Communication fosters trust, which, in turn, builds loyalty. Talk to team members often, letting them know where they stand, and encourage managers and supervisors to do the same. Host frequent town halls in which you listen to employees’ concerns and ideas and share your vision. T Tell the energy vampires that it’s time to “get on the bus or get off.” You might think that a few nonconformists and cynics won’t be a major problem. I call them energy vampires, a constant source of negativity that sucks the life out of everything around them. Gently approach naysayers and give them a chance to get aboard. However, if they refuse it, you must get them out. Even if your biggest complainer is your highest performer, negative energy outweighs positive contributions. Remember that culture fuels performance and results. Forbid complaining. Successful organizations with great cultures focus on solutions, not complaints. Let your employees know they are not allowed to complain unless they also offer solutions. Turn them from problem-sharers to problem-solvers, and it will make a difference in the work atmosphere and lead to new ideas and innovation. Focus on the small wins. The key is placing attention on ordinary, non-spectacular wins, which add up to big successes. Highlighting and celebrating small wins foster loyalty, excitement, and confidence. In sports, championships result from many small wins. Realistically, even if you devote yourself to helping your employees be their best, some will still be better-suited elsewhere. The main point is emphasizing that there are opportunities for those willing to stay and work hard. Ultimately, by filling the voids with positive leadership, communication, and action, your organization will be stronger, wiser, and better than it is today. Jon Gordon is a consultant, keynote speaker, and author of The Energy Bus and The No Complaining Rule, among other works. With a Cornell University master’s degree in teaching, he works with businesses, professional sports teams, schools, universities, and nonprofit organizations. Visit For the full version of this article, visit INCENTIVEMAG.COM/JONGORDON 22 | Incentive | December 2009 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Incentive - December 2009

Incentive - December 2009
Editor’s Note: The Age of Friending
Cover Story: Social Media Can Engage Employees
Original Research: 2009 Corporate Gift IQ
Potentials: Here and Now
Travel News: Where to Go and How to Get There
Strategies: Morale-Boosting Leadership
Primer: Social Networking and Incentive Programs

Incentive - December 2009