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Here?s the problem.? Most employers only get about 50% of the potential out of their employees. Research has validated this point.? Gallup, Inc., the national polling and consulting company, has done extensive analysis on the engagement level of employees in organizations and the overall impact on company results.? Gallup?s research showed that in the average organization, 30% of the employees are engaged, 50% are disengaged, and 20% are actively disengaged.? However, they found that in world-class organizations, 63% of the employees are engaged, 29% are disengaged, and only 8% are actively disengaged.

?Disengaged? employees are clock-punchers.? They give minimal effort and do just enough to keep their jobs.? They don?t give their employers their discretionary effort and tend to react passively to problems.? ?Actively Disengaged? employees are the poison pills in the organization.? They are the trouble-makers.? They like to stir things up.? Actively Disengaged employees blame others for their problems and make excuses.? They erode a company?s bottom line and bring down the morale of an organization.? In contrast, ?Engaged? employees have a positive attitude, take personal responsibility for their actions, and are passionate and committed to the company?s goals.? Engaged employees contribute their discretionary effort to the company, and they are solution oriented.? They are the ?A? players on the team.

It seems very obvious then that we should all try to have Engaged employees to put our companies on the path to success.? Of course, that?s easier said than done.? To have great employees, you need great leadership.? Liz Wiseman, a former global leader for Human Resource Development at Oracle, has done extensive research into the way leaders can dramatically impact the productivity and attitudes of their teams. In her recent book, Multipliers, Wiseman summarizes her findings that there is a continuum of leadership with ?Diminishers? on one end and ?Multipliers? at the other end of the spectrum.

Diminishers are the kind of people you hate to work for.? They ?diminish? the productivity and potential of their subordinates.? They are tyrants that keep everyone on edge.? They can be micro-managers that make you second-guess yourself.? They keep people in the dark and make unilateral decisions without seeking input.? Multipliers, in contrast, are great bosses.? They empower people, foster real debate and thinking, and get the most out of their employees.? Multipliers are the kind of people everyone wants to work for.

Wiseman describes Multipliers as ?genius makers.?? She rightly points out that Multipliers are not wimpy, feel-good leaders.? They are tough and demanding, but fair.? They push people to achieve their best.? Wiseman argues that we all can improve our ability to be Multipliers.? She points to five disciplines of the Multiplier: (i) attracting and optimizing talent, (ii) creating intensity that requires best thinking, (iii) extending challenges, (iv) debating decisions, and (v) creating ownership and accountability.

Wiseman?s work provides useful language to think about leadership and ideas on how to be better at getting the most out of the resources we have.? This is important given the fact that we have significant challenges in business today with limited resources.? We don?t have the luxury of having our employees operating at 50% of capacity.? The problem is that we get lulled into a sense of complacency and accept minimal performance as the standard.? The research shows that we can expect and get more.

If we are honest, we all can probably identify with both ends of this spectrum.? Even great leaders can slip into being a Diminisher on occasion.? Diminishers are usually bright people. In fact, it?s their success that usually leads to their managerial promotions.? Like the old ?Peter Principle,? people can be promoted past their level of competency and expertise. Being a great individual performer does not necessarily mean someone will automatically be a great leader.

From my perspective, Multipliers are really great coaches. As a former coach, I remember having to push my students to achieve their best.? We all have a certain amount of talent and potential waiting to be unlocked. A real coach knows how to do that.? They are demanding, but also inspiring.? They challenge you to new heights.? You don?t mind giving it your all, because you know you are on a worthy mission.

Here?s the reality.? Most managers are never really trained on how to be a great coach.? Managing can often be more about ?baby-sitting? and organizational reporting than performance optimization. I agree with Wiseman that these skills can be learned.? The question is whether it?s really worth the trouble to learn to be a Multiplier.

The good news is that the data shows tangible benefits of being a Multiplier.? Wiseman?s own research and others have shown that Multipliers get a 2x increase from their employees.? Similarly, Gallup?s clients that focused on increasing employee engagement have seen an increase of 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth compared to their competition.? The bottom line is that being a Multiplier can have a big impact on the real bottom line.? We all go to great lengths to try and improve our businesses.? We make significant investments in our technology, marketing, and real estate.? However, we tend to neglect the greatest asset we have ? the talent, skill, creativity, and energy of our employees.? While it?s certainly not easy, I think it?s clear that learning to be great Multipliers is one of the best investments we can make in our business.

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