As one who trends current practices, tendencies and even fads that impact the world of work, I am often amazed at not just how these trends get started but how they catch on and followed by the masses. The recent Pokeman craze is a bit beyond me – I never played it when I was younger; however, it does have its pros and cons as we can see the downsides, such as accidents and even a few deaths. But it certainly has its pros as it is helping bring people together as well as bringing in business for those who capitalize on this craze.
I often wonder, though, as I’m following workplace trends, if leaders within an organization are listening to them and doing something about them. I hear daily in my work with clients and in my graduate classes of problems that are continuing to occur within organizations and leading to a continuing unhappy workforce. Recent Gallop numbers (July, 2016) indicate that disengagement levels are back up around 70%, and are even higher for governmental workers. Is this a trend that is paid attention to in order to turn this around and create a new trend of happier workplaces?
If newer leadership studies and practices are indicating that heartfelt and transformational leadership is needed to increase more engagement, why is it that the old traditional ways of leading people are still going on, which is based on production and output? This is not to say that these are not needed or should not be the focus of an organization; but when the focus is only on them it can lead to decreased performance, dissatisfaction, and even burnout.
Effective leaders know this – they are aware of what is trending in their field as well as in their organizations. They survey and test these trends to determine their validity and applicability and get to the needs of their workers. Good leaders read, study, and look at how they can apply positive trends, while reducing those that are negative. For instance, boredom is becoming common among workers and reasons can vary from routine tasks to no skill variety; if a leader was aware that boredom can cost organizations money in term of lost productivity and work not being produced, they can look at job redesign to increase knowledge and skill use, or get workers involved in creative problem-solving activities for how they would make their work more appealing.
Good leaders are not afraid to release the reigns to their workers as newer trends show that worker engagement goes up 71% when leaders recognize strengths and give empowerment to workers (Gallop, July 2016). So, my advice to those of you in a leader position, or if you are aspiring to be, is to research and follow current trends in your industry and become more involved in your organization to determine if these are occurring and how you can either overturn them or capitalize on them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks and talk to your employees to get their opinions, or just get to know them – when workers know you care about them they will follow you anywhere, which is one of the biggest trends today.