This is Challenge #10 and it shows up in Stage 3 and again in Stage 6.

Here’s the question to ask your CEO:

Can you run a successful company if your employees don’t buy-into your vision, your mission, or your core values? Can you run a successful company if your employees are content to just do their job, get their paycheck and go home?

You won’t like this answer.

The answer is an unequivocal YES!

According to the most recent (at the time of publication) Gallup Poll on Employee Engagement, (2020) 66% of our employees are disengaged. That means that organizations have people roaming the halls spreading discontent and seeking to undermine their employer. While this is disturbing on many levels, the reality is companies run successfully every day. The bigger question is, how much more successful could they be if their employees were engaged?

In 2013, Gallup released its first State of the Workplace study, which revealed that only 30% of U.S. workers were fully engaged in their jobs. They have tracked companies that have gone on to launch well-intentioned missions, campaigns and strategies to reverse this trend. And there is hope on the horizon. The most recent Gallup Study indicates that employee engagement increased to 39% in January, 2020, which was up from 36% in late 2019.

However, the fact that 61% (over half) of workforces are still disengaged bears our attention. Our companies are being impacted by an epidemic that is totally curable. Bad managers lead to disengaged employees. According to Gallup, “Engagement largely comes down to whether people have a manager who cares about them, grows them and appreciates them.” In 2012, Parade magazine released a poll stating, “Fully 35% of U.S. employees reported that they would willingly forgo a substantial pay raise in exchange for seeing their direct supervisor fired.” The data supports the assumption that most workplaces are toxic environments that make it impossible for employees to get excited about showing up every day.

Jeffrey Pfeffer says in his book, Leadership BS, that the emphasis put on leadership has failed to create better leaders. He believes, “leadership training and development has become too much a form of lay preaching, telling people inspirational stories about heroic leaders and exceptional organizations.” When, in fact, inspiration is a poor foundation on which to build substantive change.

The challenge of Staff Buy-in tends to focus on the manager. In Stage 3, the manager is usually the founder, the business owner and/ or the CEO. Articulating and holding people accountable to the core values of the company, having a strong vision and mission, helping employees understand the value they bring to the organization are just a few of the solutions to this debilitating challenge.

One of the biggest challenges for inexperienced managers is holding people accountable by setting and then managing to specific expectations. I ran a business with over 100 employees, and I know it’s a challenge to get staff buy-in, but it’s not impossible. It doesn’t necessarily take an incredibly talented leader or an exceptional manager; I know I wasn’t. I definitely had my faults, but I genuinely cared deeply about every employee. I cared about who they were, how they felt, what they did, how they did it and why they did it. I became better as a manager as a result of some lessons learned the hard way, such as:

  • People can tell when you aren’t really listening.
  • They want to know what they are doing well, not just what they need to do better.
  • People enjoy working hard when they know the WHY.
  • When you take people for granted, they know it, and the good ones leave.
  • I didn’t have to know everything.
  • I could trust people to do what they said they would do.
  • How to communicate difficult messages and have hard conversations. How to let people go.
  • How to accept my own faults and mistakes and own up to them.

Help your CEOs to know that they don’t need to be the best-trained leader or manager, but they do have to care about the people they hire. Period. If they care about their staff, they will teach you things you never knew and in turn, you’ll help them become part of a winning team.

Encourage your leaders to learn about their employees’ goals. Find out what their strengths are. Ask for help from the people they have hired. Become more transparent and recognize that they don’t have to have all the answers. Help them learn how to manage by setting expectations and then managing to those expectations. Effective management is the cornerstone to a great company. The job of the CEO of a growing enterprise is to embrace these challenges.

Starting on page 109 in my Stage 3 book, The Art of Delegation: How to Effectively Let Go to Grow with 20 – 34 Employees, you’ll find Four Steps to Setting and Managing Expectations. Helping your CEOs implement these four steps will go a long way to help a CEO address this very difficult challenge. Another idea is to have them take the Staff Buy-In Quiz on page 119. You can get your Stage 3 book at


Your Success. My Passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!