Engagement and Respect

“Jim, you are not doing a good job of hiding your disdain for your company” – Jim Spivey

I was recently sharing my thoughts on the qualities I look for in members of my team with a fellow colleague. The first is simple – capability. Each member of the team must be able to do the job asked of them in a competent, effective manner. Experience, effort, tenacity, and a willingness to learn are all part of being a capable team member. No surprise there.

The second is more abstract but vital to the success of any team – integrity. Members of any group that don’t practice integrity both in words and actions becomes a hindrance to the team. It forces the other members to operate in an environment of distrust, clouding the focus on its objectives. Eventually the team will fail. Again, no surprise here.

But the third quality I look for is just as important – Engagement and Respect. That includes a passion and intensity for the job, but must also come with an equal conviction to the team…and the organization that team serves. One that weathers the daily challenges and the ebbs and flows of progress without resorting to critical and unconstructive behavior – overt or subconscious.
Too often teams are faced with behavior to the contrary. Behavior such as break room chat about the “dumb decisions of management”. Dinner discussions critical of other team members. Comments made about the performance of other groups within the organization. Heck, I’ve even seen sales presentations where individuals air internal frustrations in an effort to gain the customer’s trust. Stupid, just plain stupid!

You simply can’t be successful – either personally or as part of a team – if you lack engagement and respect for the team or organization you work with. It eats away at you. It seeps in to your actions no matter how hard you try to avoid it. That’s why many organizations today work hard to drive and improve engagement.

To be fair, this is not a character flaw or something that can’t be changed. Just the opposite – it IS something that can be changed. Yes, there are certainly things that an organization can do to improve engagement, but in the end the individual controls whether they will be engaged. And often that involves taking a hard look at what you can control and what you can’t. Looking at your situation from both sides, and recognizing the ‘grass isn’t always greener on the other side’. Most importantly, to reflect back on the purpose which drives the team/organization, and recommit yourself to that goal.

On the other hand, when I work with team members who live true to this quality – like so many of my family here at Manpower – it becomes an incredibly powerful thing. Trust goes through the roof. Team members are able to do their job with the confidence they will have full backing. The energy level rises significantly – in a positive way. Without the negative to pull them down, the team achieves things not previously thought possible.

Which brings me back to the quote I shared above. A good friend of mine, Jim Spivey, once heard these words directly from a client of his. In this case it wasn’t so much his words as it was ongoing behavior that solicited this response. His actions over the course of the engagement were clear to the client – he didn’t believe in the company he worked for. And in the end, he did more damage to the relationship than any amount of value delivered for his customer.

It comes down to attitude, belief, and conviction. There are those of us who can look past the faults and challenges in any organization and work tireless to achieve the vision and purpose. And there are those who allow frustration to cloud our daily efforts to the point where they ‘can’t hide their disdain for their company’. Are you drinking the company Kool Aid?

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