Continuous improvement: Leaders should be committed to their own ongoing learning and development, as well as to the growth and development of their team. I seek out feedback from my team, identifying areas for improvement, and work to develop new skills and knowledge.
Quiet quitting is the emerging phenomenon of employee disengagement, essentially quitting on the job. What strategies do high-impact leaders deploy to motivate themselves and those around them to move from quiet quitting to quiet committing? Because, at its core, there is no change without commitment. Commitment to change ideas. Change beliefs. Change perspectives. Change routines, rituals and boundaries. Organizations change one commitment at a time. One leader at a time. As part of our series about “Quiet Committing: The Top Five Commitments High Impact Leaders Make & Keep To Themselves Daily”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Wilson of Keen Wealth Advisors.
As Chief Investment Officer and President, Matt is responsible for the analysis and allocation of client investment portfolios, and he serves on the executive leadership team. He also works with clients as one of the firm’s most senior financial planners.
Matt has been instrumental in delivering upon the strategic objectives of Keen Wealth Advisors and has worked side by side with founder and CEO Bill Keen for nearly two decades. He began working with Bill in 2002 as an intern and progressed to serving on the operations side of the business to his current position.
Matt has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Finance with a Minor in Economics from Rockhurst University. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. Matt holds life, accidental and long-term care insurance licenses in multiple states.
Matt and his wife, Amie, live in Parkville, Missouri with their children, Tyler and Clara. Matt enjoys participating in many hobbies. At a young age he would immerse himself in whatever activity he became interested in. He always enjoyed the outdoors and attended every Boy Scout camp he could and became an Eagle Scout at age 14. Post college he became interested in endurance events and participated in ultra-marathons and triathlons. He has completed several triathlons, including a half Ironman, many 50k trail runs, and a 100-mile foot race in the Flint Hills of Kansas. In recent years, Matt has traded his running shoes for a Corvette and Porsche Cayman and enjoys traveling to different racetracks across the US. He competes in time trials, sprint and endurance races, and also enjoys many driver education events.
Thank you for making time for our visit. What was the first job you had, and how did that job shape the leader you are today?
This wasn’t my first job, but at a young age I participated in the Boy Scouts of America. I worked my way up through the ranks and ultimately earned the Eagle Scout designation. I think the Boy Scouts of America program did a wonderful job preparing me to be a leader. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is an organization that aims to develop character, citizenship, and personal fitness in young people. As part of their program, Scouts participate in a variety of activities that teach valuable skills and help build leadership qualities.
First and foremost, the Boy Scout program emphasizes the importance of being prepared. Scouts are taught to plan ahead and be ready for any situation that may arise. This mindset of preparedness and planning is a crucial aspect of leadership, as leaders must be able to anticipate challenges and have contingency plans in place.
In addition to being prepared, Scouts are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. They are taught to be accountable for their decisions and to always do the right thing, even when it’s not easy. These values of responsibility and integrity are essential for effective leadership, as leaders must be able to make tough decisions and set a positive example for others.
Another key aspect of the Boy Scout program is teamwork. Scouts are encouraged to work together, communicate effectively, and support one another. These skills are crucial for leadership, as leaders must be able to collaborate with others, delegate tasks, and motivate their team to achieve a common goal.
Finally, the Boy Scouts provide many opportunities for leadership development. Scouts can take on leadership roles within their troop, such as patrol leader or senior patrol leader. These positions allow Scouts to practice their leadership skills and develop their abilities in a supportive environment.
Overall, the Boy Scout program provided a solid foundation for leadership development. Scouts learn important skills such as preparedness, responsibility, teamwork, and communication, which are all essential for effective leadership.
We’re talking about quiet quitting in this series. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a job you decided to quit?
When I was in high school, I worked at McDonald’s. While I enjoyed working there (and the free meals that came along with it) I didn’t take the job seriously. I learned that my lack of effort and commitment can negatively impact my coworkers and the customers. I also learned the importance of being engaged and fulfilled in my work.
Employee Engagement is top of mind for most organizations. How do you define an engaged employee?
Engaged employees are fully invested in their job and committed to their organization’s goals. They feel a sense of purpose and understand how their work contributes to the overall mission of the organization. Engaged employees value collaboration and teamwork, are proactive about identifying areas for improvement, and are committed to their employer. They are invested in their own development and are willing to take on new challenges to advance their careers.
Say more about your Employee Engagement portfolio. What’s working? What’s not working? And what are you piloting now to address the Quiet Committing trend?
Keen Wealth Advisors is committed to keeping team members engaged by implementing various strategies. We communicate openly and regularly with our team members to ensure they feel informed and included in decision-making processes. We provide opportunities for growth and development, allowing our team members to learn and advance in their careers. Our recognition and rewards programs acknowledge and celebrate team members’ accomplishments, boosting motivation and fostering a sense of pride. We encourage collaboration and teamwork, creating a supportive environment where team members feel valued and respected. Additionally, we offer work/life balance initiatives such as flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and subsidize gym memberships to support our team members’ well-being.
As a financial services firm, we provide financial planning and education to everyone on the team, to help them better understand and manage their finances. We are also committed to giving back to the community and regularly volunteer our time and resources to support various causes. To encourage team members to get involved, we provide three paid volunteer days for each person, allowing them to make a difference while giving back to their community.
By fostering a positive organizational culture, we strive to create a workplace where team members feel motivated, committed, and engaged in their work, and where they can grow both personally and professionally.
Through our experience, we have found that team member engagement can be negatively impacted by several factors, including poor management practices, a lack of autonomy, insufficient resources, uncompetitive compensation, limited opportunities for advancement, and work that is not aligned with personal values.
Poor management practices, such as a lack of feedback or micromanagement, can leave team members feeling unsupported and undervalued. A lack of autonomy, or the ability to make decisions and have control over one’s work, can lead to a sense of disempowerment and lack of motivation. Insufficient resources, such as outdated equipment or lack of support staff, can create obstacles and frustration for team members. Uncompetitive compensation, such as below-market salaries or lack of benefits, can lead to feelings of undervaluation and resentment. Limited opportunities for advancement or professional growth can lead to a lack of motivation and a sense of stagnation. Finally, work that is not aligned with personal values or conflicts with personal beliefs can cause team members to feel disconnected and unfulfilled in their work.
New ideas we are piloting:
Our company is taking proactive steps to prevent team member disengagement and the “quiet quitting” trend. We understand that unclear job roles, lack of recognition, limited opportunities for growth, poor leadership, and burnout can lead to disengagement among employees.
Unclear job roles can create ambiguity for team members, as they may not fully understand what their responsibilities and expectations are. This can lead to confusion and frustration, and team members may feel uncertain about what they are supposed to be doing or what their goals are. We are working to clarify job responsibilities and encourage better communication and collaboration among colleagues. We are fostering a culture of recognition by providing opportunities for employees to provide feedback on their work environment and creating more opportunities for professional development and advancement.
Poor leadership can have a significant impact on team member engagement, as it can create a negative work environment and make team members feel undervalued or unsupported. To address the issues of poor leadership, we are providing training to managers and supervisors, and promoting a more positive and supportive work culture that values open communication.
When team members experience burnout, they may become disengaged from their work as they no longer have the energy or motivation to perform their job duties effectively. They may also begin to withdraw from their colleagues and disengage from the workplace culture. To address burnout, we provide resources and support for team members who are experiencing high levels of stress and exhaustion, such as access to wellness programs and flexible work arrangements.
Additionally, we conduct regular team member engagement surveys to identify areas where team members are disengaged, and our managers are trained to provide regular feedback and coaching to team members to help them improve their skills and stay engaged in their work.
As goes the leadership, so goes the team. How do you hold leaders accountable for their own level of engagement?
At Keen Wealth Advisors, we take a proactive approach to holding our leaders accountable for their level of engagement. We establish clear expectations for our leaders by providing them with a set of guidelines that outline the behaviors and actions that contribute to a culture of engagement. We also set measurable goals related to engagement, such as increasing employee satisfaction scores and reducing turnover rates.
To evaluate engagement metrics, we regularly conduct team member surveys to measure engagement levels, and share the results with our leaders to help them understand the impact of their leadership style on team member engagement. We also conduct regular feedback sessions with our leaders, providing them with feedback on their behavior and communication style, and offer training and support to help them improve their leadership skills.
Additionally, we link engagement to performance evaluations for our leaders, incorporating engagement metrics into their annual performance review. Leaders who fail to meet expectations in this area are held accountable and may be required to participate in additional training or coaching to improve their engagement levels.
Finally, we encourage a culture of recognition and celebration to help foster engagement among our leaders and team members. For example, we recognize outstanding contributions and achievements through a quarterly recognition program, and we hold regular team-building events and activities to promote collaboration and teamwork.
Overall, by holding our leaders accountable for their level of engagement and providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed, we have created a culture of engagement that contributes to the success and satisfaction of our team members and our organization.
The first phase of the pandemic ushered in the phenomenon called The Great Resignation, where employees left organizations to pursue greater meaning and purpose. Then came The Great Reshuffle, where employees left organizations to pursue promotions, pay and perks. Now we’ve entered a third phase, Quiet Quitting, where employees are deeply disengaged. What do you believe to be the key drivers of Quiet Quitting?
I strongly believe that the key drivers of the “quiet quitting” trend are related to how employees are managed, recognized, and supported within the organization. Poor management is one of the most common causes of the trend, where employees feel unsupported or undervalued by their managers. A lack of recognition for hard work is also a major contributor, as employees who feel their efforts go unnoticed or unrewarded are less motivated and engaged in their work. Limited opportunities for growth and development can also lead to disengagement, as employees feel they have no room for advancement.
Unhealthy workplace cultures characterized by harassment, discrimination, or other negative behaviors can contribute to high turnover and low engagement, while poor work/life balance can lead to burnout and disengagement. Lastly, a lack of job security can make employees feel their job is unstable and less invested in their work.
What do you predict will be the next phase in the evolution of the employer / employee landscape?
As the employer/employee landscape continues to evolve, new trends and changes are likely to emerge. Some potential next phases that I predict could include:
Holacracy and self-management: Some organizations are experimenting with decentralized structures that allow employees to take on greater responsibility for decision-making and task allocation. Holacracy, for example, is an organizational philosophy that emphasizes self-management, with teams and individuals taking on fluid and adaptable roles.
Virtual and augmented reality: As technology continues to advance, virtual and augmented reality may become increasingly important tools for collaboration, training, and communication. These technologies could enable remote teams to work together in immersive virtual environments, for example, or allow for more engaging and interactive training programs.
Conscious capitalism: Conscious capitalism is a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of businesses prioritizing the well-being of all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and the environment. Some organizations are embracing this approach, with a focus on creating long-term value for all stakeholders rather than simply maximizing profits.
Employee ownership: Employee ownership models, such as worker cooperatives, are gaining traction to create more equitable and democratic workplaces. In these models, employees have a say in decision-making and may even have a stake in the company’s ownership.
Blockchain-based employment contracts: As blockchain technology becomes more widely adopted, it could be used to create more transparent and secure employment contracts. This could help to prevent wage theft and other abuses, while also allowing for more flexible and adaptable employment arrangements.
Overall, the employer/employee landscape is likely to continue to evolve in response to a range of factors, including technological advances, demographic shifts, and changing cultural values. Organizations that are able to stay ahead of these trends and adapt to new ways of working will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the years to come.
What leadership behaviors need to evolve to improve employee engagement in a sustainable way?
Leaders who truly want to improve employee engagement must shift their mindset and evolve their behaviors in several key areas:
Courageous Communication: Leaders must have the courage to speak truthfully, challenge assumptions, and encourage constructive disagreement. They should be willing to listen to their team members’ perspectives and concerns and be transparent about the organization’s goals and challenges.
Radical Empathy: Leaders must go beyond empathy and show radical empathy — the ability to step into their team members’ shoes and truly understand their experiences, motivations, and fears. They should use this understanding to create a work environment that promotes psychological safety, trust, and belonging.
Ownership Mentality: Leaders should instill an ownership mentality in their team members, encouraging them to take ownership of their work and outcomes. This can be achieved through coaching, feedback, and recognition of employees who demonstrate an ownership mindset.
Continuous Learning: Leaders must encourage a culture of continuous learning, where employees are encouraged to learn and develop new skills and competencies. This means investing in training and development programs, encouraging knowledge sharing, and modeling a growth mindset.
Human-centric Flexibility: Finally, leaders must embrace human-centric flexibility, which involves creating a work environment that prioritizes employee well-being, work/life balance, and autonomy. This can be achieved through flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and other initiatives that support employees’ physical, mental, and emotional health.
Change requires commitment and happens one choice at a time. What are the top five commitments you make and keep to yourself daily that have a material impact on those you lead?
1 . Leading by example: Leaders should model the behavior and attitudes they expect from their team. I strive to lead with integrity, be accountable for my actions, and treat others with respect.
2 . Communication: Effective communication is critical to building trust and fostering engagement within my team. I commit to communicating clearly and frequently with my team, providing feedback and addressing concerns in a timely manner.
3 . Empowering others: A good leader empowers their team to take ownership of their work and to make decisions independently. I commit to providing my team with the resources and support they need to succeed, while also encouraging and empowering them to take on new challenges.
4 . Continuous improvement: Leaders should be committed to their own ongoing learning and development, as well as to the growth and development of their team. I seek out feedback from my team, identifying areas for improvement, and work to develop new skills and knowledge.
5 . Recognition and appreciation: Leaders should commit to recognizing and appreciating their team members for their hard work and contributions. I commit to taking the time to acknowledge my team’s accomplishments, providing regular feedback and praise, and showing genuine appreciation for their efforts.
What’s the most effective strategy you’ve discovered to get back on track when you break a commitment you’ve made?
When I realize that I have broken a commitment, I immediately take responsibility for my actions and acknowledge the mistake. I don’t shy away from admitting the mistake, as it can be the first step towards rebuilding trust and credibility.
I take the time to apologize and make amends wherever possible. This could involve offering a sincere apology to those affected and even provide an explanation for the mistake. I do my best to reassure those affected that I am committed to making things right and that I will take the necessary steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Rebuilding trust can be a long process, but I am patient and consistent in my actions. I communicate openly and transparently with those involved, ensuring that they are aware of my intentions and actions. I also follow through on any promises that I make and demonstrate that I am committed to restoring the trust and credibility that was lost.
In some cases, circumstances might have changed, and the original commitment may no longer be feasible. In such a scenario, I communicate the changes to those involved and renegotiate the commitment. I make it a point to be clear about what I can and cannot deliver, and work with others to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Finally, I make sure to learn from the experience and take steps to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future. I reflect on what went wrong, identify the root cause of the problem, and take action to prevent similar mistakes from happening again. By adopting this strategy, I can get back on track after breaking a commitment and rebuild the trust and credibility that was lost.
Thank you for sharing these important insights. How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!