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Expertise at Your Company is Being Wasted

The majority of the expertise at companies is likely being wasted because management doesn't trust front-line personnel.

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The expertise your company possesses within its personnel is not enough to be successful. Based on Gallup’s research, less than 30% of your employees are engaged in their work and are giving their utmost for your firm’s success. This means that the majority of the expertise in your firm is being wasted.

Permit Maximum Contribution

The leading cause of employee dissatisfaction (after pay and benefits) is the limited opportunities they have to engage more of their talents at work. The old term pigeon-holed comes to mind where an employee hired to do X is never permitted to do Y, despite their capabilities, availability, and expressed desire to do so. This old-school phrase is alive and well in modern corporate life, where expertise is deemed superior to all else.

The problem with expertise is that experts look at the business through their own microscope and can only see what is shown in their eyepiece. If you take ten experts, each with their own microscope, and have them review your business, they will probably give you a story that resembles the fable of the three blind men describing an elephant; each one of them is correct and very wrong at the same time.

Since few people have a singular expertise, allow your experts to view your business through all of the microscopes they are capable of using. This offer provides the following advantages:

  1. Multiple views gives better perspective on the business and provides the business with better answers.
  2. Employee’s skills are improved.
  3. Employee’s engagement is improved.

Push Decisions to the Front Lines

Another topic that hinders employee engagement and active participation in organizational improvement is decision-making parameters. It is common for firms to be driven from the top, thus limiting the influence even the best employees have to a very narrow slice.

This is done under the auspices of fiscal responsibility and shareholder accountability, when normally it is a lack of trust in the ability of front-line personnel to make the best decisions for the firm.

The problem with this methodology is that the front-line employees are disheartened by the lack of opportunity, and since they are not permitted to make key decisions, they cannot improve nor can management see their potential.

Decisions should be made as close to the problem as possible in order to speed identification and implementation of solutions. This decreases downtime and increases employee commitment and skill level.

Provide a Picture of Success

This topic falls back to the dangers of taking too narrow a view of the business. Oftentimes, employees are given individual goals that might make sense in isolation, but don't make sense in the broader context of the business. These nonsensical goals are frequently the result of an unclear picture of what success looks like.

Employees, especially the millennials, needs to know why the work they are doing is important. Deadlines and assignments given without rationale or relation to a bigger picture is a sure method for creating disengaged employees. Simply explaining how the goals fit into the company or project is usually all that is needed. Mindful people do not like mindless goals and tasks, and will tolerate them only as long as they need to.

A jigsaw puzzle is the perfect analogy for this. Compare these two options for assembling a 500 piece puzzle:

  • Without the photo or edge pieces.
  • With photo and edge pieces already assembled.

Which option is more time-consuming and frustrating? Other than being easier, why is the other option more enjoyable?

You’ve hired good people. Now, get out of their way.

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