Supervisors make or break a company’s success

FORT COLLINS — The competitive advantage for a successful company can come down to good leadership.

Supervisors account for about 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement, said Mary Atchison in her panel at Fort Collins Startup Week. About 30 percent of all employees are really engaged; they come to work interested and focused at doing a good job. About 50 percent of employees are just there, doing what they need to do and leaving. The remaining 20 percent of employees are actively disengaged, hate their job and might even be actively working against the company.

But many of those employees who hate their jobs or just don’t care about them could be feeling that way because of their supervisors.

There are many costs to poor leadership including loss of customers, loss of productivity and employee disengagement. Research has found a direct line between the quality of supervision and the financial productivity of companies. And of course, employee turnover.

“It’s a common experience to leave a job you love because of a crappy supervisor,” Atchison said.

Decent pay and benefits make up the base level of what employees want from their leaders. They want leaders who lead by example, who show competence and clarity and trust.

“What employees are looking for is we want to belong,” Atchison said. “We want to feel we belong there, that we matter and that we’re known as people and we’re appreciated. Above and beyond getting paid decently, we want to belong.”

There are ways to become a good leader of a company, Atchison said. It starts with having self-awareness and emotional competence with yourself as the leader. Then it’s having a vision for your company and employees. Next is having clarifying values to support that vision. Finally, it’s setting up the right mechanics that back up those clarifying values.

Supervisors need to have a clear understanding of who they are and how they come across to others. Bosses have to manage their own emotions and deal with other people’s emotions. Ultimately, Atchison said, leadership is all about emotions day in and day out.

“If you can’t deal with other people having emotions or don’t want to deal with it, that’s a problem,” she said. “Employee breakdowns happen and you as leader have to figure out what you’re going to do. If you have a blindspot that says you don’t want to deal with other people’s feelings, especially if they’re negative, you’re going to have a lot of challenges as a leader. From my perspective that’s totally the foundation for all other skills of leadership.”

Once leaders are self-aware and emotionally competent, they can establish their vision.

“Vision is about where you want to go,” Atchison said. “If people don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard for them to be super engaged. They don’t know what they’re working on, and they all want to be working on something that’s important and that matters. If you can’t articulate that it’s going to be pretty hard for people to get on board with you.”

Next is establishing values, which set up how you and your team are going to accomplish your vision.

“Values are really what determine your culture,” Atchison said.

Values are an agreement of how the company is going to work together, and values are translated by defining what the company’s ethics are. For example, if a key value to the company is honesty, then some important leadership principles will be that there is open and transparent communication at all times, customers will be treated fairly, the team will always be informed and people who lie will be fired. Ethics that go along with that is that the leader will never lie or mislead people.

Finally, a leader must set up the company mechanics, which are the tools that will be used to accomplish the vision alongside the stated values. If a company value is that everyone respects each other, a mechanism that would support that is an employee software system that is easy to use and enables staff to do their jobs well, not just the cheapest option.

The bottom line, Atchison said, is that good leaders mean more engaged employees and that more engaged employees mean more work will get done, which in turn means less stress for everyone.

FORT COLLINS — The competitive advantage for a successful company can come down to good leadership.

Supervisors account for about 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement, said Mary Atchison in her panel at Fort Collins Startup Week. About 30 percent of all employees are really engaged; they come to work interested and focused at doing a good job. About 50 percent of employees are just there, doing what they need to do and leaving. The remaining 20 percent of employees are actively disengaged, hate their job and might even be actively working against the company.

But many of those employees who hate their jobs or just don’t care about them could be feeling that way because of their supervisors.

There are many costs to poor leadership including loss of customers, loss of productivity and employee disengagement. Research has found a direct line between the quality of supervision and the financial productivity of companies. And of course, employee turnover.

“It’s a common experience to leave a job you love because of a crappy supervisor,” Atchison said.

Decent pay and benefits make up the base level of what employees want from their leaders. They want leaders who lead by example, who show competence and clarity and trust.

“What employees are looking for is we want to belong,” Atchison said. “We want to feel we belong there, that we matter and that we’re known as people and we’re appreciated. Above and beyond getting paid decently, we want to belong.”

There are ways…