Chief Executive Engager: 5 Ways to Spark Greater Employee Engagement
Engagement means a lot of different things to different people. To some it means happy, satisfied team members. To others, it means working with people who are dedicated and care about the future of the company. And to others, engagement means having people who go the extra mile every time and are enthusiastic and passionate about everything they do. Truth be told, it's all of those things. This kind of full-on engagement is far greater than the sum of its parts.
There's a reason there are nearly 300 million more Google search results for "engagement at work" than "engagement rings." If employee engagement were so easy, we wouldn't all be writing and reading about it. Think about all your team members. How many would you say are actively engaged? If you're like most folks I hear from, that number is nowhere near where you'd like it to be. Disengaged team members could be one of your best untapped resources to improving morale, teamwork, productivity, sales, customer service, retention... the list goes on.
- Be the manager who cares. Instead of looking at your team as a sea of people, remember that each is an individual who wants to feel valued and that what they do matters. They all have lives outside of work, so take an interest in them as a person, not just an employee. Even small things--a simple email, a few kind words, a handwritten note, an apology, a gift--can make all the difference.
- Be the best communicator. People leave jobs because of poor management and poor communication. They don't like to feel out of the loop, or be the last to know about major decisions. They don't like to find out at the last minute that they're scheduled to work. It's not enough to give them x-y-z goals without giving them the w-h-y--and the h-o-w to make it happen. As managers, we often underestimate the power of communication. By leaving your team in the dark, you leave room for nothing but frustration, stress, and well, lack of engagement. At the end of the day, your team wants to feel like an important part of the big picture. After all, without them, there would be no big picture!
- Be the high-fiver. Think about when things go awry in the workplace, or when someone's performance or customer service is less than stellar. Chances are the people at the center of those issues hear about it immediately. Chances, too, are when those same people are on top of their game, they don't hear about it. Perhaps it's because top-notch performance is expected. True as that may be, many people list lack of praise and recognition as a top reason for being unhappy in their job. Unhappy team members make for unhappy customers, and unhappy customers make for an unhappy bottom line. Everyone's doing more with less these days, so make it a point to go out of your way to be the cheerleader and congratulator. Whether it's quarterly awards, weekly shout-outs, or high-fives in the hallway, it will feel good--all around--to highlight your team's success.
- Be the collaborator. Nothing makes people feel more engaged than knowing that their opinions and ideas matter. Let them be involved in decisions that directly affect them. No one knows what it's like to be in their shoes more than they do. Meet with your team often. Talk less and listen more. You just might learn something.
Another good idea: give your people a chance to ask senior management real, meaningful questions. Too often, the direct connection between the "top" and the "bottom" is lost. Connecting those dots offers a kind of transparency that makes people feel respected, important, and valued. What do you get in return? You guessed it, higher engagement.
- Be the believer. We all long to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do. No matter what the job is, small or large, help your team members find purpose and meaning in their roles. (Sometimes it's incredibly obvious, other times not so much.) Help your team members understand they're an important part of the company's success, no matter what their job is. Sometimes all anyone needs is a believer to get them to think, "I want to do this," rather than "I have to do this."
It's not your products, services, or strategies that make you more successful than other companies. It's your people. How your people feel about their boss is a direct reflection of engagement. At a minimum, your people should respect you. At best, they'll aspire to be like you. Engaged employees will outperform those who aren't engaged any day of the week.
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