Here are some statistics on employee engagement that serious managers will find shocking.

  • Only 30% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs
  • 50% are not engaged
  • And 20% are actively disengaged

There are a lot of reasons for these atrocious numbers – but one of them is the lack of validation.

What does “validation” mean? It doesn’t mean telling an employee “good job” or “attaboy.” Those are meaningless, generic accolades that don’t actually tell the employee anything about why you’re pleased with their work.

Real validation is targeted and specific – and ultimately leads to a greater bond between employee and manager.

Doing it right
Consider the story of the CEO of a mid-sized software company who did it exactly right.

Every year, she had her accounting department hand out the employee bonuses; but one year when the company had done poorly, she sent out smaller checks but included a handwritten note with each one, praising the employee for his or her efforts. “Joyce,” one read, “your new collections process improved our cash flow during a tough year.” Another said, “Bill, the new hires you made this year were game changers for our operations department.”

These weren’t just empty “compliments” but real validation – aimed at an individual employee – and touting specific accomplishments.

The upshot? Even though their checks were smaller, every employee thanked the CEO for their bonus, something that had never happened before.

Trust, safety, attachment
A Harvard study shows that just like kids with parents, adults seek validation from competent leaders they can trust and with whom they feel safe. When such conditions exist, employees become more attached to their managers and companies and their engagement improves markedly.

To properly validate your employees’ efforts, try the I.C.U. method:

I means that you identify

      the important milestones each employee reaches

C stands for celebrate – making a big deal out of your people’s incremental success. For an employee, it’s like a parent turning cartwheels when a kid solos on a bike for the first time.

U is for uplifting struggling team members – not allowing them to become mired in their challenges and encouraging them to break through the bad patches.

Do these things and you’ll see more of your employees willing to do what it takes to make the organization succeed.

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