Gallup, you know the dudes from Washington D.C. that love to survey us up, has helped us better understand the dynamics of team performance. In fact, at BTL we quote their “employee engagement” survey results all the time to help explain and direct our clients to focus on the few. I mean come on man, it’s always a few that transform any system. Study history, you’ll see.
Back in 2002 when I started BTL, Gallup surveys on U.S. employee engagement were 28 55 17. 28% were engaged, 55% disengaged, and 17% actively disengaged. These statistics are in the opening of our 8 Essentials of Leading Teams Playbook to highlight the need to focus on the few. Most leaders invest way too much time trying to turn the mediocre middle, as we like to call it – the 55%’ers. This is mostly a waste of energy. The mediocre middle doesn’t want to think, innovate, or initiate. They want to be told what to do and do just enough to keep their place. They’ve chosen peace and pay as their motivator. There are an abundance of these normal types in every system. Fact. The 28% that are engaged is where the BTL leader begins to cheat. You see, the elite are often found in this group and given the right kind of attention (challenging out of belief, mostly) they can transform into the 1% that turn into Joeylamb, Reda, Joe D, Kyle Snyder, Kollin Moore, Sammy, Luke, FD, Bk, Grappy, Durp, Dan, Littlest Fricker, and the like. Focus here, leader. Challenge out of belief your 28%’ers until you stumble onto the next 1% performer. Like me, you never now when the next Kyle Alfriend is going to emerge. I’ve given up on predicting which clients turn up. I just pour it on ‘em and wait to see when another Wierema winds on up.
Lastly, what do we do with those 17%’ers that are trying to steer the bus off the mountain side. Do we just fire them all and do it quickly? Nope, not at all. The best way to deal with the mutineers in your world, leader, is to bring them in closer and give ‘em a listen. Think about the Maine mutineers with Colonel Chamberlain back in The Civil War. The Colonel didn’t shoot them, he let them speak and heard their concerns. He then told the truth and reminded them why they were here, where they were going, and asked them to help. He turned most of them and separated those that were still against him. A few of the former mutineers changed the entire course of the war with their courageous, fixed bayonet charge down Little Round Top at Gettysburg. It’s always the few, friend…
So, fast forward to our current challenge the coronacrisis. What do we, as leaders, do to steer our teams through the chaos? Focus on the few. Remind the teams why we’re here, where we’re going, and why it matters. Be with. Listen. Speak ccd with shoot in your eyes. You can be wrong and we’ll forgive you leader, you cannot be unclear. Be strategic and safe. Don’t go turtle or ballistic. Calm, steady, and even keeled are critical in a crisis. Embody these.
And, it might help to understand a recent 2019 Gallup survey conducted around the world regarding anxiety levels. Your USA teams are Gold medal winners, yet again. This time, however, it’s not a Gold medal we want. You see, we are the leading Nation, according to trusted Gallup, in terms of anxiety. We are an increasing anxious team, America. This is a big why behind the catastrophic reaction of our political leaders in regard to Corona. They must appeal to the masses who are already living in fear. So, what do we do, as BTL leaders in this situation? We think for ourselves. We make decisions and take productive action. We model the way. We rely on our strong core and authentic opus to guide us. We take precautions and listen to our leaders without cowering in fear. We are good citizens and productive rebels. We don’t mindlessly follow the mediocre middle out of fear and we course correct quickly as we learn along the coronacrisis highway. We figure it out as we build the bridge while we walk on it. No easy answers. Keep working and ask God for help. Slow down and think for awhile. Slow down. Decide some baby steps you’re taking today to continue to LEAD your teams.
As for me, I’m reminding myself of the most frequent command in the Bible – Fear not. Good..