How to destroy employee engagement in five simple words

“Let me think about that…” 

In a recent Gallup article, Jim Clifton said, “Most lousy-to-good cultures are well-meaning. God bless them for that. They just don’t know what to do. So they do what is easy — they deliver ‘satisfaction’ to the troops.” 

Good cultures have managers who keep the troops satisfied

A friend recently lamented about one of these “good” cultures when he described his conversation with a senior manager: 

“I told him that I’d do everything. I’d create the processes, work with the vendors, do all the paperwork, and fit everything within our current budget. All he had to do was say ‘YES’. His response was, ‘Let me think about that.’” 

He, you, and I know that this senior manager WILL NEVER THINK ABOUT IT. 

This manager’s response was meant to keep my friend satisfied. As Clifton points out, it’s like having a latte machine in the break room, but not giving people the tools, coaching and training to be stars. The result is that good companies get satisfactory results, while great companies achieve superior results

Great cultures have managers that help employees reach their maximum potential

A good manager says he or she will “think about it” when presented with an idea that might represent a change to the status quo. 

A great manager wants to build on an employee’s strengths and maximize his/her potential. The great manager provides the employee with a framework for submitting ideas and isn’t afraid to discuss the idea openly and honestly. 

How to avoid saying you’ll think about it

  • Recognize that you won’t think about it. No, you won’t, unless you’re asked again. The second time you’re likely to lie: “I’ve thought about it, and I think we should table the idea for because we’ve got several higher priorities.”
  • Give them a framework for presenting the idea. In the Anatomy of Persuasion, an idea is presented by providing a stated objective, the needs fulfilled by the idea, an actual plan, how the plan is carried out, and the expected results.
  • Have a regular forum for discussing the ideas. We get our leaders meeting once a week, with 2/3 of the meeting reserved for solving issues. We have them add new ideas or proposals to the issues list, so that they have an opportunity to openly discuss and decide on innovative, creative ideas and assign tasks to ensure the implementation of those ideas. The idea never gets lost. 

How ‘not thinking about it’ creates a great culture with great employees, and higher employee engagement

Empowerment is a big word, but what it means in this case is that you are encouraging employees to be more than simply satisfied. It won’t take long to spot the weeds in your garden. Your stars will be full of ideas on how to make yours a great culture and company. The good employees will make lattes and do their work.