53% Of the workforce is nonengaged. 13% Is actively sabotaging their workplace. 51% Of the workforce is actively looking for a new job. Gallup also reports that 70% of employee engagement can be attributed to the manager. Yet nationally, we spend an estimated $50 Billion on developing better leaders and managers. Still, as Jeffrey Pfeffer says, “It is not just that all the efforts to develop better leaders…have failed to make things appreciably better…. It makes things much worse.”
Who or what is to blame? While I am tempted to blame it on leadership, in reality, leaders are just operating in poorly designed systems, if they were designed at all. As Deming famously said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” If this is true, let’s stop focusing on developing better leaders because this strategy is not working. Let’s start designing better systems of leadership.
What does a designed leadership system look like, and if we saw one walking down the street, how would we recognize it? In my research that has resulted in the book, Leveraging the Genetics of Leadership, cracking the code of sustainable team performance, I recognized a designed leadership system by high levels of employee engagement for extended periods. The minimum I looked for was five years.
For example, Don Chalmers Ford, located in Albuquerque, NM, is consistently ranked as either the best or among the best Ford dealerships to work for in the universe of 5,000 Ford dealerships. How do they do this? One way is to make the engagement of their workforce a strategic priority. In their 2016 National Baldrige Application, the nation’s highest award for excellence, they state, “Comprehensive and critical workforce engagement…is at the core of DCF’s (Don Chalmers Ford) integrated strategic planning system.” In simple terms, Don Chalmers Ford has built the engagement of its workforce into its business strategy.