Engaging Employees' "Heads and Hearts": The First Thing to Do

by Budd Babb, PH.D

Budd's relaxed yet focused management consulting style is a natural fit to a wide-variety of complex organizations committed to continuous improvement throughout the state of Maryland. He works best with proactive organizational leaders that are truly committed to ensuring that employees are seen as their organization's "most important asset." His extensive skills and knowledge have been sharpened over the past 25 years by serving clients in a wide-variety of successful organizations throughout the United States, Canada, the Arctic, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan. He has a deep understanding of organizational behavior and systems, change management and work process redesign. He helps his client organizations achieve success by making sure that everyone can and is expected to bring their "Heads and Hearts" to work every day. He is a relationship builder who easily supports his clients' ongoing successes in manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, higher education and social service organizations. He is especially talented in helping his clients develop truly operational strategic plans, provide practical solutions to difficult problems, build effective internal leadership and team skills, and design work processes that improve quality, productivity, reduce delivery times and enhance customer loyalty.

Managers/Leaders realize engaging employees' "heads and hearts" is a major investment in achieving and sustaining organizational success. Effective leaders recognize that the manner in which employees are treated matters. Leadership manuals are full of complex systems that support and sustain successful employee engagement. Such systems provide behavioral "maps" and long lists of practices that are focused on motivating and involving employees in ways that bring out their best. Contemporary management research supports the concept that the more people are personally invested with their "heads and hearts" in their organization's success, the more organizations are successful. Clearly, such leadership systems and practices are worthy to invest in. However, implementing new systems and practices do require careful training and change management. This can be time consuming. However, the best single leadership action that can be the most important and best START toward achieving successful employee engagement is for managers to:

"Treat All People With Unqualified Respect, ALWAYS."

While this behavior and attitude is desirable, are there exceptions to the rule?
Maybe, but.........!

Some behavior is not okay?
Yes. But, when people are clearly trying to do their best and do not succeed, they are still worthy of respect.

Managers need to be able to order people to do things?
It is generally better to ASK rather than to order.

Treating people with courtesy is unnecessary when it is difficult?
It is especially important to treat people with courtesy when it is difficult.

Leaders need to make decisions without asking the opinions of employees?
Better decisions are made when employees are asked their opinions about decisions that are to be made or have been made.

Leaders should never embarrass people?
Never!

Leaders do not need to take time to talk with people?
Building relationships matter!

People's "heads and hearts" are extras?
If leaders base all their behavior on treating people with unqualified respect they are likely to find other ways to engage people's "heads an hearts" ALWAYS!

Effective leaders are sensitive to others and aware of their power to affect people's behavior and attitudes!