The Invisible Employee

Chester Elton There’s a crisis in business today: The invisible employee.

Feeling overlooked, ignored and unappreciated, invisible employees fight back the only way they know how … by staying hidden in the corporate shadows, doing just enough to get by, grumbling about this and that, and passing these techniques along to new workers. After all, why bother shining when no one notices your achievements? Why bother trying when you could be in the next batch of layoffs?

You probably know your share of these folks. You may even have a few working for you. And it’s up to us, as managers, to combat this most common of negative attitudes in business – that smart employees keep their heads down and never do more than is asked.

Under-performing, uncaring employees undermine our efforts at building great companies. But many great managers have moved their teams and companies from ordinary to extraordinary by something as simple as:

1. Setting a guiding vision

2. Actively Seeing employee achievements that move your organization toward its goals

3. Celebrating those achievements

The end result is an organization of productive employees who feel noticed, valued and appreciated. In other words, they feel visible. In work cultures that follow these guidelines, employees actually enjoy coming to work everyday. As John Cutter, CEO of Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, says, “Restaurants do not sell merchandise that people can take home, we only sell memories. Engaging our entire staff by using these principles helps Friendly’s provide great memories for our guests.”

Wouldn’t it be great if your company were filled with visible, productive employees – people who were excited to go to work and create great memories for your clients? Not full of employees who mumble a sad prayer on the train, “Dear Lord, please strike me down before I get there.” Or worse yet, “Please bless that my boss died over the weekend in a freak gardening accident.”

In today’s competitive environment, all of us are looking for the next big product, the next big capability or solution. But great managers are turning back to the basics. They are finding that recognizing people leads to a more engaged workforce and a more successful business.

Our new book, “The Invisible Employee,” contains the stories of real leaders who have learned how to manage employees in ways that make those people feel valued and appreciated. The key word here is learned. Because most of us have to work at recognizing and appreciating others. Our natural instinct tells us to look out for number one and to keep other people down. But the best managers have committed to learning the art of recognition and appreciation. And it’s well worth the effort. In the end, seeing – and rewarding – employees for their efforts pays off in ways nothing else can.

Print page