Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Do Your Leaders Take People for Granted?

Carrie was an experience project manager, with a staff who adored working for her and a boss who bragged about what she was able to accomplish. 

And one day, Carrie showed up to work and turned in her resignation. Why?

“I love my job and I love what I got to do. But I felt that the people around me didn’t even see me anymore. I felt like I was part of the furniture. I felt that they just assumed I would always be there to do everything I always handled. I stopped feeling appreciated years ago, but now I feel ignored. So I am going to find another job.”

Her boss was flabbergasted. “Carrie’s been my top performer for years,” he said. I told everyone how great she was.” Everyone, as it turns out, except Carrie.

We asked follow-up questions.

How did you let Carrie know she was appreciated?

“I just assumed she knew how much I appreciated her,” her supervisor confessed. “She’s been here for 15 years. I didn’t think she needed me to tell her that she was great.”

Problems happen when leaders make assumptions about what others perceive and what they need.

Motivation and appreciation are like water. People need both every day, but we cannot always see when the glass is close to being empty.

The motivation that works for one person may not work for another. Leaders have to ask their teams what they need to stay motivated. And remember, people may not tell you, especially if they don’t trust you.

What can a leader do? What do can we do to replenish the motivation?

  1. Give people the attention they want
  2. Give people appreciation that matters to them
  3. Help people feel valued and respected in the workplace by listening to their opinions and ideas
  4. Provide opportunities for professional growth
  5. Allow flexibility so that employees can manage work and life 

If you don’t know what your people need, ASK. Ask more than once, ask in different ways, listen to the answers, and take action.

1 Comment

  1. Brad Burchnell


    You couldn’t be more right. Unfortunately this is all too common. During a comedy routine with Jeff Dunham and his little guy “Walter”, Jeff asks Walter if he loves his wife. Walter says of course I love her. Jeff asks do you tell her. Walter just says ahhhhgggg. Jeff asks again how does she know. Walter says I smile a lot. Walter’s sculpted features are at the very least described as sour.

    This is much how a disproportionate number of “engaged employers” often find themselves. You would think this might be passé approach but alas it’s not.


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