6 Leadership Actions to Enhance Positive Employee Involvement

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 focused on high performance business results are searching for ways to maximize the contributions of all employees as their companies face increasingly demanding customers and extremely competitive markets. With heavy emphasis on high quality services and products, the most effective business leaders are recognizing that employees really are valuable resources in achieving daily business success.

A vital aspect of the "Quality Revolution" of the last 30 years has been the involvement, participation and empowerment of ordinary employees in decision making and problem solving processes that have traditionally been the purview of supervisors and managers exclusively. In the past, non-supervisory individuals were simply engaged by supervisors and managers through instructions developed by management without employee involvement.

Forward thinking company leaders now recognize that a major aspect business success must be based on finding ways to ensure that the best thinking and involvement of all employees is always available to day-to-day and strategic management of the company. Leaders must do all that can be done to ensure positive employee involvement.

Defining Leadership

All managers/supervisors must recognize that leadership is not about simply giving orders, leadership is really about:

  • Efforts to Influence Others
  • Interpersonal Behavior
  • Generating Commitment
  • Relationships
  • Using Power

Results of Enhancing Positive Employee Involvement

Successful positive employee involvement is the result of people (managers and employees) interacting in positive ways. Proactive leaders act to enhance positive employee involvement in ways that:

  • Foster mutual respect.
  • Promote timely, open and honest communication.
  • Encourages ownership of decisions.
  • Enhances coaching, training, learning and empowerment for personal and organizational success.
  • Promote people accepting responsibility, authority and accountability.
  • Ensures that people's concerns, questions and problems are addressed in positive ways.

6 Leadership Actions (LAs) for Positive Employee Involvement

LA # 1: Positive Reinforcement is a powerful motivational tool that increases the likelihood of good performance. Take time each day to determine if anyone exerted extra effort deserving of recognition. If so, select an appropriate reinforcer, set a time and deliver it!

LA # 2: Ask About Questions, Problems and Concerns is a means of gathering important information to head off problem situations. Set aside some concentrated time to speak (could be brief) with each employee to find out what roadblocks they face. Keep track of what they say and do what can be done to respond in helpful ways. This will forestall crisis management and demonstrate management support.

LA # 3: Ask for Input Prior to Decision Making from people impacted by decisions. Obtaining input does not mean managers give up their authority to make decisions; it enables better decisions based on more complete information.

LA # 4: Provide Information and Feedback in a Timely Manner makes for a more informed, loyal, and more involved workforce and builds a healthy sense of teamwork. Use of up-dated bulletin boards, timely memos, regular up-date meetings and face-to-face respectful meetings with individuals needing appropriate performance feedback intended to improve behavior.

LA # 5: Don't Over or Under Manage Over Managing is a failure to give people adequate freedom to do their job. It is a waste of time to check up on or actually carry out the work of others, preventing their development and growth. Under Managing is about a failure to give people the accurate, complete, useful information and support. Take time to train and prove people with clear expectations and get out of the way.

LA # 6: Treat People Fairly and with Respect Be sensitive to others and always be aware that when managers/supervisors/leaders speak their words are given more weight than the average person because of the power of their roles. Never embarrass people. If leaders are always fair and respectful of all employees it is very likely that the other five leadership actions are being actively used.

Finally, leaders following these 6 Leadership Actions are likely to be doing all that they can to MOTIVATE employees to be highly COMPETENT at their job and to be highly COMMITTED to their company and customers!