If you’re having to tell your people to work more hours, it’s time to revisit your own leadership practices!

At the beginning of the Mental Awareness Month this year, I would like to draw the attention of leaders to the importance of creating a work environment that prioritizes employee physical and mental health. Relying on financial growth and career progression opportunity alone to motivate people means that they work for you because they have to, not because they want to. Many leaders wonder why their people aren’t bought into their visions and giving their best. People will only do their best in environments where their mental health is not being jeopardized through a series of unreasonable requests or disrespect. As I typically say to my clients, try a little more compassion and kindness.

I was discussing this with one of my favorite clients a couple of weeks ago and he drew my attention to the fact that it took two. As the CEO of the organization, he pointed out that if your “senior leaders are constantly under delivering and hurting the business you may yourself having to pressure them to work harder and put in more hours.” After a short conversation we agreed that feeling the need to manage your employees’ time and workload is a symptom for a bigger issue that requires addressing. Start asking yourself about the balance your work environment provides, mainly related to the following:

  • Competence. How do you feel about the ability of those who constantly under deliver to address the responsibilities you’re assigning to them?
  • Support. To what extent are you supporting your team with their enablers for success?
  • Accountability. How effective are your management practices in establishing and enforcing accountability?
  • Consequences. To what extent do you, your leadership team, and other employees bear the consequences of your own lack of commitment?
  • Engagement. How would you rate the actual buy-in of your vision and why it makes sense for people to do what you’re asking them to do?

Typically, the answer is some combination of all the above. So making everyone work much harder will make the problem fester longer and result in dissatisfaction among those who are actually delivering. If you ask me what to do, I would say do what my client and I are doing: identify and resolve the actual problem(s). And while you’re doing that don’t forget to give your employees the best wholistic employee experience which would encourage them to give you their best performance. Otherwise, they’ll keep doing what will secure their paychecks and protect them from any headache noncompliance may cause.