by Michael Holland – 

What can be learned from a survey of 1,000,000 employees and 80,000 managers about why talented employees decide to stay in a job or go?  What can you learn about yourself as a leader if you looked at yourself first as employee who has a manager?

At times leaders believe — or rationalize — they can only be satisfied by getting more money even though they have heard that money is not a motivator and more importantly have probably stated that maxim to employees.

So why do leaders still feel this is true for them?  Studies continue to show that once basic monetary needs are met, satisfaction is no longer tied to paychecks. Instead we are looking for exciting and challenging work, opportunities to learn and grow, the chance to make a difference through our work and the opportunity to work with great people.

We seek to engage deeply with the company and our boss but does the company and our boss seek to engage deeply with us?

In Marcus Buckingham’s classic management book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, we see compelling data about our own engagement.  Sure the results of the study were focused on employees and their managers but we are an employee and have a manager.

What I love about the 12 questions that Buckingham presents — and why this book is a required reading for our #Leadwell people leadership training program — is the way the questions  build upon each other and his metaphor of climbing a mountain.

We may think that we’re flying faster into our role as a leader by ignoring the foundational aspects of our own engagement with our role as an employee, but reality is far different from our perceptions.

Here are Buckingham’s 12 questions organized in his escalating mountain camp metaphor (mentally picture Mount Everest).

Base Camp – “What Do I Get?”

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

Camp 1 – “What Do I Give?”

  1. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  2. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  3. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  4. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Camp 2 – “Do I Belong Here?”

  1. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  2. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  3. Do I have a best friend at work?
  4. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

Camp 3 – “How Can We All Grow?”

  1. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  2. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Our boss can impact our satisfaction well beyond our paycheck through solid management of the work and the team.

Our boss can ask us about what we enjoy doing and what else we’d like to do.

Our boss can offer us opportunities to learn more and provide opportunities for our team to interact and develop positive work relationships.

Is your boss doing these things?

And here’s the big thought provoking question for you:  Now that you have self-analyzed your engagement and the level of aptitude or inaptitude of your boss, how are YOU doing as a leader to your employees?

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Which question stood out the most to you?  Why does it stand out?
  • Take the time to write down your answers to the first 6 questions.  Would your boss be surprised at your answers?
  • Grab a peer manager you trust and together answer the questions from your employees’ perspective.  Discuss your insight with your peer.