Engagement, retention, and loyalty have been critical issues for many companies across the U.S. Productivity, turnover, and innovation have all been correlated to employee engagement. In a business climate where increasing results can make or break a management career the subject of engagement has often been considered a silver bullet. Many of my past managerial roles had challenged me to increase employee engagement and I’m all too familiar with this message.
There are many strategies organizations use as rewards like having recognition lunches, monthly award nominations, and the magical perk list at Google. Having led teams that were both engaged and disengaged in a variety of settings I’ve only found one true measure of employee engagement:
Do members of the organization have an understanding of how they affect its success?
Can you imagine the performance limitation of a sales person or output of a manufacturer who doesn’t understand how their efforts impact the overall organization? Worse yet can you imagine how a person or team might perform if they don’t believe their efforts have any impact on their organization? Yikes! That’s scary stuff.
Leaders need to engage with their teams on a regular basis and show them there efforts directly correlate to the teams overall success. These strategies can be done in regular intervals:
- When you share team/department/group performance, show how things are or are not improving and solicit input on why this is.
- From the leadership perspective, share what behaviors made the wins possible. As engagement increases the top performers will echo the same observations.
- Discover what motivates members of the team and tailor your approach accordingly. Take into consideration their current and possible future roles. Helping people improve is a way to keep the fires stoked and momentum going.
- When specific actions/behaviors are regularly tied to success a team knows very quickly what works and what doesn’t. Feedback in real time can go two ways and this also makes review writing much easier.
Leadership must engage with their team on a regular basis to tie their roles and performance to the bottom line. The next step is recognition which can be approached in many ways. A connected leader will know how to recognize each individual as different personalities have different preferences. Some like to be on display, some like a private meeting congratulating them, while others might want a specific company perk. The leader who engages employees regularly will have the best chance at contribution to the bottom line. I’ve used this approach to increase retail sales, reduce error rates in distribution, and train leaders in developing their execution. A connected team is an engaged team.