Big thoughts on a thankful day

Another interesting article pinged into my inbox this morning: “What your boss needs to know about engagement”, Harvard Business Review

This article claims some staggering percentages. 35% of workers feel stress, and nearly half of those say it’s because of low wages. 48% of employees do not feel valued at work. 43% are discontented because of limited opportunities for growth or advancement. But at the same time, maybe these are unsurprising to us. After all, don’t we all have the impression that the majority of people with 9-5 desk jobs are a) bored b) boring and c) just waiting to get out?

Good management is key to battling this kind of disengagement. In moments when I am disengaged either from lack of work or tedious tasks, the last thing that will motivate me is another project landed on my desk to keep me “involved”. The motivation I need should come, I think, from above.

I’m not envisioning that the answer to this is doing, by over-management of people, or by an over-effort to congratulate tasks accomplished, but rather thoughtful management of strategy, which necessarily involves workers. This includes thinking (as opposed to doing) more analytically about one’s staff, about where they fit in, how they add value, how their strengths can be mobilized for future good. Perhaps another way to put this is that good managers don’t just look at how to get the most out of their employees where they are now, but where they will be.

Of course, to a degree, too much nourishment of one’s workers to “grow their potential” can feel patronizing – the effect of which is possibly as damaging as its opposite in disrespect. There is a definite balance to be struck, and I’m sure some hard-working sociology graduate student out there could enlighten us as to the proper ratios. In the meantime, it’s trial and error in the workplace.

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