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State sector employees want their leaders to lead

Leadership 4 Nov . min read

In the war for talent one of the most demotivating aspects for top performers is to see non-performance go unaddressed. This is an area where leaders consistently fail to deliver.

Failing to act is costly. Culture, morale, and productivity suffer when there are no consequences to poor performance. Alarmingly, our research shows that leaders are well-aware they’re falling short. It appears they’re stuck, unable to do anything about it, and have made no inroads in this aspect of their performance in the past three years.

Employees think leaders are doing even worse in this area than leaders do; it’s the number one issue for staff. State sector employees are crying out for their leaders to lead. They want and expect leaders to be able to deal with the tough stuff, have those difficult conversations, and nip poor performance in the bud.

But something is off. Maybe leaders don’t know how to fix the problem? Maybe they’re not getting the targeted support they need? Maybe they’ve been too focused on support and empathy during the Covid period? One thing is for sure, doing nothing is not the answer, as it hurts top performers and damages leadership credibility.

If your best performers can’t get their needs met by your organisation, they’ll take their talent and go elsewhere, leaving their underperforming, less motivated colleagues behind.

It’s great that leaders are succeeding at creating an inspirational culture and giving people a sense of belonging. But leaders can’t afford to confuse being caring, flexible and supportive with absolving them from the responsibility of having honest conversations and giving ongoing, regular feedback on areas of improvement.

This is at the heart of leadership responsibility, and we need to be training and supporting our leaders to be able to do this with authenticity and confidence. Encouragingly, state sector employees want more feedback on personal performance from their leaders. So why not give them what they want?

It’s more important than ever that leaders look after their biggest asset, their people. Providing a supportive culture that values and develops talent helps to attract and retain needed skills. It’s a smart strategy for this super tight labour market, and it’s how you win the war for talent, and hang on to your best performers, instead of seeing them walk out the door.

State Sector Leaders' Effectiveness Insights

Is the good news bubble for the State State Sector leaders about to burst? Our newly released New Zealand State Sector Leaders Effectiveness insights paper poses some interesting questions. Download now to find the answers.

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State Sector cta

Chris O’Reilly

Chris co-founded AskYourTeam as a way to make it easier for leaders to ask their teams the most important (and the least-asked) question in business: “How can I help you do your job better?”

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