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Leadership is a relationship

Do you sit in your office and wonder what you can do to get people more involved in their work? Well, have a read! Alumni's consultant, psychologist Andreas Lökken writes about leadership and relationships.
Managers are usually also employees, which is easy to forget if you have a weak emotional connection with them.

If you're either:
1) employed
2) sick and tired of your job, or
3) constantly thinking about what your manager could do to make you feel like it's worthwhile coming to work

I think you need to continue reading. This post is about how relationships between managers and employees affect employee commitment, loyalty, and productivity.

The term Employee Engagement was coined by Willam Kah in an article in the Academy of Management Journal 1990 and describes the emotional connection that employees feel in relation to their employers.

In the 27 years that have followed, employer/employee relationships have loosened up, and the precariat has become a term. The long-term nature of the working relationship has been limited considerably and, if you think about it, this possibly extends beyond just working relationships.

Employees do not want to (or are unable to) establish the same kind of relationship with their employer as, for example, staff in Sweden's industrial companies did with their employers in the past.

So it's maybe not surprising that Employee Engagement has emerged as the most important strategic issue in many companies both in Sweden and globally.

"Exactly!" you might think now, if you happen to be the disgruntled employee.

"I knew it!" you then think triumphantly.

"It's the employer's fault. My boss really should tackle all these grievances everywhere!"

But it's not quite that simple.

If you think about it carefully, managers are also employees (unless you work in an owner-managed company, where different rules apply).

So: If you as a manager lack emotional engagement, you have the same dilemma as your employees.

Emotional connection is an end in itself - people simply feel bad about not being able to trust or not feeling a sense of reciprocity with those around them.

"Well"you may now be thinking (if you now think you're a strict manager who prioritises results):

"So what!? That's just emotional rubbish!"

"We have to bite the bullet sometimes, and a job is a job!!"

But you're wrong. It's not just emotional rubbish - it's a hard factor that affects top-line growth. Research shows that employees with little emotional connection with their employer tend to suffer more from work-related stress problems. In addition, engaged employees are more efficient and enjoy their job more.

"Wait, this is employer propaganda!" you might now think. But it isn't.

Commitment, performance, and profitability go hand in hand.

So what do we do about it? Well, there is a solution, but it doesn't lie with the individual managers. Or the employees, for that matter.

In one study, 451 employees of an international company had to answer questions about the quality of their relationship with their immediate superior and give details about their own commitment and self-perceived stress.

Then a statistical method was used to identify the order in which different factors affect each other, to examine how the chain of relationship, commitment, and perceived stress at work was interrelated.

The results point to something extremely important and something that should be a real wake-up call for those of you sitting in the room thinking about how to get people to be more involved, whether they are equal or subordinate.

Commitment is largely dependent on the employee's personal relationship with their immediate superior.

The quality of the relationship between managers and employees has a decisive impact on the emotional investment the employee makes in relation to their employer, and the loyalty employees feel in relation to the organisation as a whole. So when you try to achieve employee engagement you should review and ensure the quality of the management system, incentive structures, and skills supply.

But ultimately, having committed employees is as you've always imagined: The individual manager's ability to maintain sensible relationships with their employees is what really counts.

And if you're alone at work, you have no relationships.
And not much to be committed to either.

Source: Kahn, William A. "Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work." Academy of Management Journal. Dec 1990; 33, 4; ProQuest pg. 692
Akihito Shimazui and Wilmar B. Schauffel Is Workaholism Good or Bad for Employee Well-being? The Distinctiveness of Workaholism and Work Engagement among Japanese Employees Industrial Health 2009, 47, 495-502
V. Kumar & Anita Pansari: The Construct, Measurement, and Impact of Employee Engagement: a Marketing Perspective Cust. Need. and Solut. (2014) 1:52-67
kl. juni 03, 2016

Posted on May 5, 2017 7:13 AM |