Help! I Dread Work and I’m the Boss! - Lifework Systems

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.


Abraham Lincoln

The leadership style that starts in childhood is at the heart of why 55% of people are disengaged and 16% are actively disengaged. What do you need and want in order to enjoy a successful, thriving business? Most of all, you need employees who are proactive, creative and personally responsible regardless of who’s observing. You need people of character, who use their power in service. So…how do you accomplish this when 71% of the American workforce is predominately disengaged?

55% of the workforce is regularly doing mediocre work delivered with resentful compliance (“Ugh, it’s Monday and I have to go to work”) proven to bring no additional revenues to their company.

16% are actively rebelling and resisting cooperation (“No I won’t and you can’t make me!”), sabotaging people and projects and costing companies a documented $16,000 a year according to a Gallup survey of 700,000 U.S. Workers. Why? The origins are in family, educational and corporate cultures we still uphold despite new priorities and information.

Up until recently, the vast majority of parents, educators and employers believed it their duty to provide all rules and incentives as well as dictate and motivate “appropriate” thoughts, emotional reactions and behaviors of those they lead. Our workplaces, originally designed to control employees, still mirror our educational systems designed to cultivate conforming, conventional, and compliant factory workers; maintaining a culture in which a few managers at the top externally motivate people.

As a result, many children became adults who learned to reluctantly bend to expectations of their authority figures, behaving like victims, while others reacted by rebelling and resisting; all costly choices, as Gallup data illustrates. You may be like most business owners who realize that in order to nurture and encourage the kind of people you need, you must re-evaluate your management styles and change your culture. You may be wondering, “How do I make necessary changes and still run my business?”

In Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth, he asserts business owners must take time to “work on their business, not just in their business.” You may agree with this conceptually but believe yourself inadequate to the task of developing systems needed to implement healthy culture change affordably, efficiently and effectively.

Transformation of your culture occurs when social interest and intrinsic motivation are cultivated. When people learn how to be trustworthy, align their actions with meaningful purposes and shift from passive compliance to proactive self-management, real positive change occurs. Your primary task is one in which managing, motivating and evaluating employees, is replaced by effective transfer of responsibility to them as a top priority. In my work with clients, I have successfully provided the structure and systems needed to make this an easy, profitable transition. But first, you must determine your readiness and then understand the necessary steps to succeed.

Key questions to determine your readiness

  • Am I committed to partnering with my staff and cultivating leadership in each and every employee?
  • Is a responsibility-based culture a high enough priority to ensure I devote sufficient time and resources to bring it about?
  • Will I give others ample opportunities to think about and discuss ideas? Solutions?
  • Am I prepared to share power? Control? Make emotional and social intelligence and trust-building priority?
  • Am I committed to the ongoing personal growth and development I need to be effective in my new role?

Your Long-range steps

  1. Make sure you and your leadership team support the transformation process. You provide understanding and gain commitment from your Sr. team about the transformation needed so each is aware of and supports the process. You share competitive advantages, desired outcomes, investment of time and resources, delivery methods, and duration.
  2. Benchmark your company’s culture to determine your starting point. You initially and periodically measure trust and engagement levels, values that build trust and how well they are fulfilled, and alignment of all with your company’s mission, values, vision, goals, procedures and roles.
  3. Get your Sr. Team members “on the bus” and develop a plan. Together you fine-tune a specific plan, schedule, roles and responsibilities.
  4. Ensure all your managers and supervisors are building trust and creating an environment where people are self-directed. You track and mentor each in their emotional intelligence and mentoring skills, ability to help others see their work as meaningful and success building trust.
  5. Create a Values-Based culture: all your staff operates by the Values that Build Trust. You hire, fire and course correct based on commitment of each to be honest, straightforward, receptive, disclosing, respectful, give recognition, seek excellence and follow through on agreements.
  6. Give your staff the opportunity to learn how to operate in Cross Functional Teams. You distribute necessary skills and form collaborative teams selected from all business areas to work together on relationships, productivity and engagement as well as meeting your business goals.
  7. Use Cross Functional Teams to redesign systems, processes and structures. Your staff develops necessary practices; together you all nurture and sustain change. In a gradual and lasting manner, you transform your culture and change is maintained through support of your entire staff.

Ready to support your most valuable asset – your people? Ready to give them a culture that ensures they have healthy relationships, get more done and are enthusiastic to come to work?

“Judy Ryan is an award-winning consultant, trainer and writer radically improving lives”

Meg Monti, Director, St. Louis Mental Health Board

As published on the e4e Community Website