What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate

Growing up Cool Hand Luke was one of my favorite movies and in a time before VCRs, DVDs and Netfix…I would wait for our paper TV Guide to tell me that this classic movie was coming on.  It didn’t matter if it was 3 AM on a school night…I would find a way to watch this flick.  Why such a passion for a movie about a hardened criminal who keeps escaping from prison?  I don’t know, but the line “What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate!” has always stuck with me as an important focus for me to move forward.

The challenge for any leader…and I mean true leader not a manager is to reach those who don’t really want to be reached.  Those members of a group, team or organization that are just tuned out and not part of the culture.  In today’s HR speak…these are the Disengaged and this is pretty big deal! In a 2009 Gallup Poll it is estimated that the cumulative cost of Disengaged Employees is $292-355 Billion per year and effects nearly 1/5th of the total work force!

So what causes this drain on economic progress that if we look at the top end…is bigger than the GDP of all but the top 30 countries in the world…yes that is right…collectively by not communicating and engaging people with effective leadership…productivity that is the equivalent to the entire GDP output of Greece (yes the same Greece that is nearly bankrupt)!

I knew that being actively disengaged at a job causes me to not care but when I sit back and really think of how this plays out across a macro scale…we see the economic turmoil of Greece as being a leading cause of the Global Economic Collapse but if we take a step back…and look at our own back yard.  Deflection to a far away land is something that we can better relate to than getting introspective.  The realization that there is very little that we can do to influence and change a course of action for a country half way around the world…but with this issue…each of us can make small changes that can have massive impact!

A failure to communicate?  Why?  What can you do and I do to change that?   How do we better express our wants and needs, to address the goals and aspirations of not just the employer but the employee?

I realize that I am far from one who should be standing on a Soap Box and preaching the powers of full engagement…there have been more times than I would like to count that I would be included in the 19% of people who are disengaged.  The reality is…I am at least partially to blame as Communication is an action that involves more than one party (other wise you would likely be labeled as a little crazy for talking to yourself)!

I for one…from this day forward…pledge to put a little more effort into bringing back my share of the $292 Billion (which is approximately $12,000 in productive effort).

What will you do…to re-engage your employer…or stay engaged over the long-term?  It is an effort that Leaders need to pick up as we can not be Managed back to engagement!  My first suggestion…engage your HR Department and build an action plan for success.

Cheers and Happy Thursday!

Chris J Powell

Posted on September 6, 2012 in Leadership

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