I see the impact of the above Malcolm Forbes quote in almost every organization I work with. Leaders tend to put more emphasis on what employees are not than on what they are. Are you undervaluing your employees? Here are a few of the most common causes for undervaluing what your employees really have to offer.
Trust in the wrong people
One of the biggest barriers to valuing the contributions of your employees is that you are trusting the wrong people’s opinion. You need to recognize that many managers and supervisors have their own personal agendas. Often, some of your best employees are viewed as threats or competition rather than valued assets. I know that most of you are thinking that this is not an issue in your organization; I guarantee that it is.
Poor internal systems
Another obstacle to placing the value on your employees that they deserve is poor internal processes and systems. When you have a weak link in your process, the blame for failure is often misplaced on the employees working within that system. Before you devalue the contributions that your employees are making to the success of the organization, make sure you haven’t built failure into your processes.
Lack of information
Access to information is another factor that has a huge impact on the perception of how valuable an employee is. When employees lack the pertinent information they need their deliverables are seen as deficient. I can’t tell you how many times I hear leaders tell me that their employees should be asking the questions. The problem with this thinking is that, more times than not, they don’t know what they don’t know. It is the responsibility of management to make sure employees have all of the information they need. Make sure that your employees have the information, tools, resources, and support necessary to do their jobs effectively.
Looking at the wrong things
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weakness. Would you want to be judged solely on your weaknesses? Of course not, so make sure you are not doing this to your employees. Make sure you are basing your evaluation of their value as much if not more on their strengths rather than their areas of weakness.
Employees do become less productive when they are not engaged in their work. This does not necessarily make them less valuable to the organization. The key is to figure out how to keep employees engaged and making meaningful contributions to the success of the organization. Disengagement is often the result of having little or no opportunity for professional growth and a lack of appreciation for the hard work employees are actually putting forth. Don’t start to undervalue your employees before you make sure you are keeping them engaged.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Employee Value
You cannot base the value of an employee solely on the opinion of others; others have personal agendas. You cannot hold employees accountable for your poor processes and systems; make sure you build systems that work. You cannot expect exceptional work from employees who are not given the information and tools they need to do their jobs; remember, you can’t expect them to know what they don’t know they don’t know. Do not judge employee solely on their areas of weakness; you wouldn’t want to be judged on yours. And, don’t write off an employee’s value just because they have become disengaged; it’s your responsibility to offer an engaging work environment with ample opportunities for growth. As a leader, it is your responsibility to keep your finger on the pulse of employee value. Value is an individual property; it is not a determination that you can leave in the hands of others. Make sure you are valuing employees for what they are.
© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.