Today I’m taking inspiration from a recent post on
The Altucher Confidential: “The 5×5 Trick To Make Life Better”.
In this moving post, James Altucher explains how he keeps himself from being overpowered by regret and worry. He takes off on the idea that we are all the average of the 5 people around us, then adds that he is also the average of the 5 things that inspire him, the 5 things he thinks about most, the 5 things he “eats” (mentally & physically) and the 5 ways he can help people each day.
While Altucher takes a personal spin, I want to explore this from the perspective of a manager.
Here’s a scary reality: unhappy, disengaged workers outnumber happy ones worldwide. The majority of workers are not engaged; they “sleepwalk through their days, putting little energy into their work”. And the factors that go into engagement? Most, if not all, are related to the employee/manager relationship. Whether you like it or not, as a manager, you control the worker experience.
So, back to Altucher’s 5×5 idea. How can we use this to keep our teams more engaged?
5 People – This is probably the size of most of our workgroups. Is everyone on your team contributing and adding real value? Think about the old “one bad apple” adage. Is there someone dragging the others down? And look at yourself with a critical eye here as well. You’re one of your team’s 5, right?
5 Things That Inspire – Look around your workspace, the place where you spend the bulk of your day. Are there 5 things in it/about it that inspire you? If you’re not inspired, can you expect your team to be? Encourage your employees to find their own inspiration. Ask them to display and share it. Remember show-and-tell from grade school? Bring that idea to a meeting and open with what inspires each team member.
5 Thoughts – Can you articulate your organization’s core values? They should be top-of-mind and driving your team’s behavior. Adding value, working smarter, being passionate, having fun, showing gratitude. These are the type of thoughts that keep your team engaged. I come back to this quote from Lao Tzu:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
5 Things You Eat – Yes, you should encourage healthy habits, like eating right, by insuring your team has the time and freedom to take care of themselves physically. Too many long hours, too few breaks, eating at their desk – these all take a toll on job satisfaction. But let’s focus on mental intake. What data streams are feeding your team? Think about forms of feedback you give, positive and negative. Are you providing creative input? Encourage engagement with other departments, disciplines, and industries. Allow your team to bring fresh ideas to the table.
5 Ways You Help – This is your highest priority as a manager. Are you available to help your team on a daily basis? Are you engaged with their careers? Do you know their long-term goals and their project interests? Are you a mentor? None of this is easy, particularly if you’re a working manager with a full task list. But helping your team members grow can be the most rewarding part of management.
What do you think? Does the 5×5 idea ring true for you as a manager?
(Photo credit: Microsoft)