Is Leadership’s Feel Real?

by Theresa Zimmermann, Featured Contributor

WHEN A LEADER IS FACED with any one of the many challenges brought about by the ever changing workforce, how can they be certain the solutions they endorse will effectively address the concerns of their people?

The answers do not come from remaining in a board room or the corner office where leadership’s perception paves the path forward. Ignoring the challenges and hoping they work themselves out or simply go away on their own does not work either.

What works is adopting a process that contains many elements of employee involvement. Only when leadership is provided with honest feedback provided by their own employees will they receive a useful blueprint designed for business and people success. Knowing, not guessing, what is going on within an organization prevents initiatives from being fruitless and time and energy being wasted. So how can leadership be confidentComputer keyboard keys labeled LEARN and LEAD in the fact that the issues being addressed are real and not just what they feel?

And so the process of Discovery© for an organization begins. This is the point where leadership makes the commitment to embark on a journey. They communicate and demonstrate outwardly their commitment to finding a better way to engage their current employees and attract new talent. This is not a “flavor of the month.” This is leadership’s pledge to the workforce.

Only when the stage is set for change can a thorough review begin. The goal is to obtain a clear picture of the employee’s view of communications, collaboration and teamwork, development, leadership and systems. This provides a starting point. Some organizations may find the results not as bad as expected and some may find it worse than imagined. In either case, it creates a basis to build upon. Remember however, fear of the results or refusing to seek the truth does not make the employee’s views go away. The investment in doing a well-orchestrated survey, sensing sessions and organizational assessment is well worth the time and energy.

Unfortunately, many employees have been exposed to past surveys which resulted in little, if any, improvements. Therefore, surveys which are administered without a strong commitment to make things better will most likely create data that is not useful. Past baggage could inhibit poor employee buy-in. Leaders must communicate results, rely on employee input for solutions and allow themselves to be held accountable for results.

Overall, sensing sessions and surveys create first steps in establishing a solid organizational baseline. The information obtained from these interrelated processes should then be compared to information revealed in an organizational assessment, which involves the company’s leadership. This leadership assessment digs deep into key areas where management and leadership have tremendous impact. Notably, these areas are the same five (5) covered in the survey and sensing sessions. This helps identify where the gaps are and which areas need urgent attention.

Leaders have a tremendous responsibility to provide an authentic foundation for such a process of Discovery© to unfold. Accordingly, employees always take note of what is being communicated to them as well as looking for consistent application of behaviors. The strategy and commitment will be carefully monitored by employees to see how leaders are adopting transparency. Employees want to be included in the plan. They expect a lot from leaders. However, don’t leaders expect a lot from their employees as well?

Leaders make important business decisions every day. Company data is gathered and studies are conducted to help support these decisions. However, in many cases decisions regarding an organizations workforce and engagement are often decided without either component.

How will you be certain the employee engagement journey you embark on is real and not based solely on feel?


Theresa Zimmermann
Theresa Zimmermann
THERESA is a founding member of Future Focus Group, LLC, based in Houston, TX. She has spent a majority of her career in human resources as a Talent Acquisition specialist and most recently as an HR Manager in one of the largest hospital systems in Wisconsin. Currently, Theresa is on the adjunct faculty of Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI. She also is an active member of the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Kiel, WI Chamber of Commerce. Theresa also provides leadership workshops as part of the certificate program offered by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay SBDC. She is a co-author of “Evolved…Engaging People, Enhancing Success”. Theresa is a native of Wisconsin.

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