Do you ever hear people say, “I’m hanging in there” when you ask them how they are? Have you ever used that answer? For more than 10 years, working as a consultant, I had spent a lot of time with clients at their offices around the country and the globe. There was a theme I was picking up when I asked someone how they were doing – I heard a lot of people say, “I’m hanging in there.”
Why should that matter to you? Because if you are reading this and you are responsible for an organization or a team then this answer is probably impacting your bottom line. That is because the people who are just hanging in there are not engaged and we know from Gallup study after Gallup study that average employee engagement hangs in the low to mid 30% range. We also know that disengaged employees tend to move on to new jobs more frequently, which can cost businesses approximately 1.5 times the annual salary of every person who quits. And that is just one number that low engagement affects in a costly way.
Start to listen to the answers when you ask people how they are; I bet you will notice that a lot of people are saying, “I’m hanging in there.” Other ways to say that are “I’m good for a Monday”, “we are half way there” or the most well known “TGIF.”
When I catch myself saying those words I can feel the energy drain out of me. Just saying it out loud right now makes me feel less motivated and less energetic. Think about how that can affect employees and morale within your workforce.
If you hear a more positive response that is good news, because it means that you are in a place with good or great company culture and happy employees. If that is your organization, you are on the right track.
So what do you do if you are leading and you are hearing the “just hanging in there” types of responses? Even worse what do you do if you are the one saying them?
Well you have two choices. You could ignore it all and keep the business-as-usual approach, or you can say, “I’m ready to do something different even if I don’t yet know what that is.”
We often hear attributed to Einstein that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Whether he said it or not, it wasn’t originally said as a response to leadership, workplace satisfaction, or company culture; but today that definition does hold true in corporate America. Many leaders are doing the insane when they go to work everyday in a culture where it seems by the engagement surveys that most people are just hanging in there, doing the same things over and over again, but expecting or hoping for change.
Why would there be change if you don’t change? How you do anything is how you do everything and if you are in charge that means the change has to start with you.
Imagine, what would it be like to go to work in the morning and find that everyone around you wants to be there (regardless of it being Monday or Friday), they are excited to be there, and they are engaged and committed to excellence? Seriously, close your eyes for a minute and imagine how much more would get done. Can you imagine what type of results you and your organization could achieve if the entire workforce was doing more than just hanging in there? There is no one-size-fits-all solution to getting to that great vision, but it starts with acknowledging that things need to change and admitting that you need to change. It starts with evaluating your leadership and communication styles, your priorities, your values, and that of your team and organization.
It starts with an open mind and the willingness to ask questions and be ready for what might be some tough answers that are hard to hear. There is an old Chinese proverb that says the fish rots from the head. If you find dysfunction, dissatisfaction, low productivity, high turnover, or any other symptom of the “just hanging in there” syndrome it’s time to figure out where it is stemming from. Is it coming from you as the leader or from another source? Don’t take this lightly and assume that it must be coming from somewhere else, it’s time to dig deep and take a hard look at the culture that you, as the leader are responsible for.
If you are looking for tactical ideas and resources in the short term you can pick up a copy of my book, The Corporate Detox (www.amazon.com or www.c-suiteresults.com/book). For a free consult to discuss what may be causing the “just hanging in there” syndrome at your organization visit http://www.c-suiteresults.com/contact.
While I know it can be hard to ask for help, start by asking yourself these questions and reaching out to someone who has the tools and systems in place to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
What will happen if I do this?
What will happen if I don’t do this?
What won’t happen if I do this?
What won’t happen if I don’t do this?
There are lots of experts out there on this topic, so find someone you feel good working with and start creating excellence and engagement so that no one in your organization is left just hanging in there.
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