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When analyzed globally, we see that employee engagement surveys always lead to the same results: too little recognition, too little personal attention from the manager, and limited learning and development opportunities. What does this lead to? It leads to frustration, unexploited potential, and oftentimes, costly employee turnover. 

There are many root causes behind this issue, one of the most common being The Watering Can Approach. This is where resources are sprinkled or distributed across employees regardless of individual talents, behaviors, or personal needs. The results are poor, yielding limited benefits, and here’s why: 

Failure to build relationships  

Studies show that employees who have mutually respectful relationships with their employers are more likely to be happy, loyal, and productive in the long run. Resources spent to better working relationships must necessarily involve one-to-one communication and individual nurturing. Measures that extend from one manager outwards to meet multiple employees, can’t possibly be as effective. 

Collective distrust 

Employees who feel unrecognized or undervalued are unlikely to work to their fullest potential. They’re equally unlikely to be energized by a series of video lectures, a workshop, or even a motivational team talk. When used alone, such initiatives are a waste of resources, not only because they are impersonal and imprecise, but because they do nothing to help individuals feel recognized or valued. Such measures foster collective distrust, as employees feel their personal fulfillment is not a priority.

Unexploited potential 

Every individual brings a unique set of talents, skills and behaviors to the workplace and these can either be harnessed or squandered. When resources are distributed without taking into account how to bring out the best in every employee, potential often goes unrealized and everyone suffers the individual lacks confidence, while organizations wait for great things to happen from a workforce that no longer feels capable. 

Ultimately, the solution is individualization. We should put our energy into initiatives that are tailored to each employee as a unique team member and asset. No more sprinkling of resources, but targeted actions that benefit all. 

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