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Employee Engagement Tip # 15 – It’s Only Business!

So often I hear the statement, “Its only business.” I have used it myself. But what does that mean?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as only business. Engagement results from treating people the same way you want to be treated. Simply apply the Golden Rule and Christ’s number one rule for behavior with your fellow man. Or woman, I know….

Yet, too often people, and especially managers, behave differently at work than their off work behavior and justify it with that phrase. As an engagement coach, I have learned the hard way that you cannot separate your personal life from your professional life when it comes to performance. If you are having problems at home, it will show up in your work. The opposite scenario is true as well. Helping solve a personal problem has led to increased performance on the job and vice versa. I know because my clients tell me all the time.

When it comes to discipline and performance review, this behavior is dusted off and put on display. Yesterday you were nice and friendly and today you are stern-faced, serious, and telling your subordinate this is just business. The employee leaves wondering which behavior to trust going forward. Others hear of the exchange, and the organizational trust value takes another hit. And we wonder why employee engagement is less than 30% in the workforce today.

The root causes of this Jekyll and Hyde behavior are conflict avoidance and unwillingness to lead by example. Most of us hate to deliver negative feedback, so we avoid it. This only exacerbates the problem. Most of us lead by models of power and authority and rarely ask the key questions, “How, when, and where would I like to receive this feedback?”

Servant leadership is all about treating everyone the way you want to be treated and leading by example. Seeing others as potential to be developed and modeling how to walk the values you and your organization profess leads to greater trust. And trust is the foundation of continuous improvement and real employee engagement.

You still confront performance issues and you hold people accountable. The difference is the results are seen as consistent and trust enhancing because the feedback is felt as information to help someone improve, something we all appreciate.

So the next time you want to say “Its only business”, substitute the statement, “It’s only the real me.” If it fits, you are on the way to becoming a great servant leader.

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