Addressing Apathy Among Managers and Key Employees
Building a successful business is a labor of love. Whether it’s the love of creating something, profit, legacy, or otherwise, your business is most likely your passion. But what if your management team doesn’t seem to share your passion, or worse, doesn’t seem to care about the business at all? While the knee-jerk reaction may be “Get rid of them,” consider some of the reasons why it may seem like your managers and key employees don’t care.
Put Your Ambition in Context
As a successful business owner, you have next-level ambition. Your managers and employees may also be ambitious, but their ambition may not be as high as yours. When the people you hired to grow your company don’t have the same fire as you, it can look like they don’t care at all.
This is a dangerous mindset. It’s also more common among business owners than you’d think.
Some managers and key employees are perfectly happy in their roles. Pushing them to do more— especially when the work they’re doing is already exceptional—can create a bevy of negative effects, such as burnout or apathy.
Consider the Causes of Apathy
If you have managers or key employees who seem less engaged and more apathetic, it’s important to ask yourself, “Why might this be?” It’s unlikely that you or a manager would hire someone who came to the company with an apathetic attitude.
You may discover that someone who’s feeling apathetic is actually frustrated. They may feel as though the company’s actions don’t align with the company’s stated values, for example. (This is becoming more evident, as younger workers tend to take a more activist bent.)
If you notice less commitment from people you typically count on, it’s important to figure out the reason why before it’s too late. Though this can be challenging when you’re running a business, it’s crucial to retain your top talent.
Act on Warning Signs
- Money may not solve everything. When important managers or employees want to leave, it may be tempting to throw money at the problem. However, if pay isn’t the issue, offering more money may exacerbate the problem, as it could show a lack of understanding of the core problem.
- Resetting expectations. Employee disengagement can sometimes boil down to misaligned expectations. Examining and properly defining what you expect from employees is only one half of the puzzle. You should also consider what the employee expects from the business, and then determine whether those expectations align with your overarching goals.
- Emotions matter. Hard, effective workers crave tangible acknowledgement of their good work. If your managers and key employees do exceptional work (which you must define for them!), they want you to not just tell them but also show them that you care about it, via career advancement opportunities, bonuses, and so on.
Above all else, next-level managers and key employees want a chance to do their best in the context of your business. It’s in the interests of your business, your future, and your success that you position them to do just that.
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