By Brian Willett, Co-Owner, MPACT Group and Consultant, Dale Carnegie Training
Currently, the career college sector is facing a lot of challenges. You know what those challenges are, we don’t need to repeat what you already know. The question is what can we do about it? Do we worry and stress about what we can’t control or do we do what we can and control what we can control?
What we can control is how we can be the best leader to the people that look to us for guidance and re-assurance.
As a leader you have two jobs. The first job is to lead people and the other job is to manage processes. Many leaders, or so called leaders, can manage processes, but they don’t do a good job at leading people.
According to Gallup, PEW, and based off our own internal research at Dale Carnegie training, the current workforce has a serious disengagement problem with its employees.
If this is the case in most businesses, then what does that mean for the career education sector and your employees who have to deal with the negative press, layoffs, and other challenges around the increased scrutiny of career education schools.
According to surveys conducted by Dale Carnegie and Associates it states that only 30 percent or so of the workforce is fully engaged. Which means the other 70 percent of the workforce is just showing up, or even worse, they are sabotaging the workforce because they are actively disengaged.
Fully engaged employees:
- Stay with organization longer
- Contribute to bottom line
- Commit to productivity and quality
- Concentrate on tasks not outcomes
- Want to be told what to do
- Do it, get paid, go home
- Sow seeds of negativity
- Sabotage progress
- Express mistrust and animosity
Imagine this: Pretend your school is a canoe stuck in the middle of a lake trying to get back to land. Inside your canoe you have 10 employees responsible for getting your school (canoe) back to land successfully and safely.
The three employees at the front of the canoe are communicating and rowing the canoe in sync and toward land. They are working together and listening to each other and getting along with each other.
The next four people in the canoe are playing on their iPhones and when asked to row, they do it, but they are doing it at a much slower pace that moves the canoe forward, but they aren’t pushing as hard as the three in the front.
The final three of the 10, at the back of the canoe, aren’t rowing at all. Actually instead of rowing, they are telling the other seven that they are slow, and that they will not be able to get them back to the land. They are sabotaging any progress that is being made toward getting the school (canoe) back to land.
The canoe illustration is exactly what is happening in today’s workforce. Employees and teams are made up of these employees that are either helping the company achieves its goals or not.
Who is responsible for engagement?
In the study that Dale Carnegie conducted they found that there are three major influencers of an employee’s engagement or lack of engagement.
The three are in this order.
- Relationship with immediate manager
- Belief in senior leadership
- Belief in organization
As you can see all three revolve around the same things, don’t they? Leadership.
So what can you do?
There are five actions you can take today as a leader to ensure more employees are actively engaged.
These five actions don’t cost any money and don’t require any additional resources, it is just up to you to make the decision to do them.
Dale Carnegie wrote a best-selling book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This book is eighty-years old and is still on a best-sellers list year after year. In his book, Mr. Carnegie has 30 human relation principles that he suggests everyone live by, and by doing so, they will have more influence with other people.
As a leader your job is not to manipulate, it is not to be in your office with the door shut all day looking at spreadsheets. No. Your job is to be out with your team, the employees, engaging them and influencing them to do great work, and ultimately leading them.
A couple of the actions from Mr. Carnegies famous book and others are ones that I believe can turn your school into a place where employees know they are doing great work and are coming to work actively engaged and don’t think about the negative press the career education sector has received, and continues to receive.
1. Lead yourself first: I must start with this. As the leader you have to look at yourself and ask “How engaged am I.” If the answer is not very engaged, then you have to change that. And maybe you can’t, then my suggestion is you have to go. Leaders must lead themselves first, if you don’t believe in what you are doing, it is time for you to go somewhere else. You can’t give that of which you don’t possess, and if you aren’t engaged, you can’t get others engaged.
2. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain: Out of 30 human relation principles Mr. Carnegie developed, he only created one that says don’t do something. And this is that one, and it happened to be number one on his list and in his book.
As the leader, in your school or of your school, you set the tone. The people that work there will act the way you act and do the things you do. If you criticize the President’s attack on the career education sector, then people within in your school will do the same. And who gets hurt the most from this? Your students.
Again, you can disagree with what has happened to the sector. However, you can’t nor should you condemn the government and all of the regulations, remember you set the tone. You are the leader. The engagement level of your team is up to you.
Remember disengaged employees are sowing seeds of negativity. If you are doing this, what are your employees doing. How is this coming across in their day to day interactions with current students and prospective students.
The chances are you have been around someone who complained all of the time. They complain about the weather, the traffic, the free-lunch they got, the pay scale, you name it. We all know someone like that, and if you don’t, then you just might be that person. Go back to number one above.
As the leader, if you are constantly complaining about the government and the increased scrutiny on the career education sector, then you are causing a negative environment for other people in your school to do the same.
3. State the facts and not your opinion: Your employees want and need to be communicated with on everything that is going on. Not because everyone needs to know what is going on, some of them may not care. As the research suggests, the relationship with the immediate manager determines the employee’s engagement level. The manager must communicate the facts of the sector for two reasons.
First, employees want to know you care enough about them to share the information.
In today’s world and especially with the millennial generation, transparency is the word that often comes up as a trait that they want from their leaders.
Think about the world we live in today. People post pictures of what they are eating. Transparency leads to trust, and when employees can trust their leaders they are more likely to do the best they can.
The second reason the leader must communicate the facts, is you get to control the message. Unfortunately, if you don’t tell people what they should be saying, they will make up what they want to say. And you don’t want an entire school or department saying whatever they want.
That is why it is important for you to leave the opinions out of your message. When you start including your opinions about everything, that may be the only information the employee remembers, and then that message is the one that gets communicated, and that might not be what you want out there.
4. Ask lots of questions: There is one thing that we all have the ability to provide and costs us nothing. That is becoming genuinely interested in other people, just like Mr. Carnegie states and encourages in his book. What does becoming genuinely interested in other people look like? Well, one of the ways you can demonstrate interest is by asking questions.
These questions could be about work? And as a leader you should ultimately ask questions about work. However, as a leader in multiple different companies, I have always used the 80/20 rule. I spend 80 percent of the time talking to people on my team about them. Their life, their ambitions, their goals, and then ultimately how all of that and work go together. I make it about them and their goals and together we discuss how the company’s goals and their goals can be achieved.
5. Lead: You can crunch numbers and ask for more from your employees all of the time. However, this eventually gets old and if the employees do not believe in the organization, it is a moot point. It is your job to instill belief in what it is your school does and what this sector of education does.
Most people got in to the education sector to help people. The people that work in your schools all started out seeking to make a difference with people and the lives of other people. You have to constantly remind them that they are doing that, and how they are contributing to making a difference with people.
With all of the negative press it is easy to get jaded that you are not making a difference, and with increased workloads that all employees have in a school and in work in general, it is sometimes difficult to see the good that you are doing.
Good leaders realize that employees need the reminders and actively create ways to infuse this in their daily jobs.
An employee’s immediate supervisor controls more than just managing numbers, or managing class loads, or decisions on approvals of documents.
Managers control the messaging that is heard amongst the employees and the school, the belief an employee has in themselves, the belief the employee has in the organization. Leaders have a huge responsibility on their shoulders.
A good manager can create a spreadsheet or a policy and hold people accountable to those processes and procedures. I am not saying that this is not a necessary skill in a school, but it is not as important as leading people.
Leadership is easy when things are going well. Conversations are easier about the business, people get a long because there is less stress, and managers don’t have to do hard things, because everything is good.
Real leaders, the leaders who can actually lead people, show up and shine when things aren’t going well. That is the reality of the sector right now. Leadership is needed now more than ever. How can you become that real leader?
Dale Carnegie and Associates; Whitepaper: Why Employee Engagement Matters, 2012
BRIAN WILLETT is a twelve-year veteran of Career College Schools. Brian started his career as an admissions representative and was promoted several times to the position he held up until 2015 as the System Director of Admissions for Kentucky’s largest private university Sullivan University, and the other colleges they own and operate throughout the state. Brian is also co-owner of MPACT Group Inc., which is an Admissions Training and Secret Shopping company. Brian now works with Dale Carnegie Training providing training and development for businesses and companies around the world.
Contact Information: Brian Willett // Co-Owner, MPACT Group // Consultant, Dale Carnegie Training // 502-296-7632 // firstname.lastname@example.org // brianwillettgroup.com // Social Media: @bwillett79 Twitter LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube Blog: brianwillettgroup.com, selfdevelopmentaddict.com