Let’s be honest we all want to improve staff engagement. We don’t just want people to turn up, we want them to show up, i.e be engaged and also deliver business results. A survey in Harvard Business Review found that about 10% of leaders can actually accomplish both of these. Let’s set the scene with a few facts on the state of employee engagement.
So how do you engage people so that they feel a genuine part of the fabric and contribute to success by increasing their sense of ownership and value, rather than they ‘just work for you’.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the 6 step process to increasing staff engagement.
Step 1: Encourage Value and Results
Your first step then is to encourage. Not just encourage more work, that could be encouraging busyness, never a good habit. It’s about encouraging them to add more value to what they do.
Engaging means taking the work beyond the 9 to 5 syndrome. I’m not advocating long hours here or always available, I’m saying that it’s beyond the clock in, clock out mentality or mindset. Engaging means getting their interest in their work and focusing not just on today, but on the long-term goal. It means that whatever they’re doing matters to them on a personal level as well as for the organisation.
Engaging means making people feel they are not just working towards success but are part of that success. The results achieved are not just the leader’s, but theirs too. They will share in the fruits and glory of success and you, as the leader, will ensure this.
Step 2: Promote Sharing
Encourage people to talk. To share ideas and say what’s important to them. And as they do so, do not just passively listen, but make sure that people know you are absorbing what is being said to you. It’s not easy in the beginning if you find people wasting your time with ideas that will never work and disagreements that have no merit. That’s where your questioning skills come in.
Guide them to an understanding of what you are looking for without demoralizing them. Notice I said guide, not tell or lead heavily by the nose. When you first start this there a) might be some baggage they want to get off their chest and b) they may be a little unsure of what contribution you’re encouraging them to make.
In the beginning, this listening, questioning, and conversation may take up a couple of hours of your day and produce little or nothing. But once you create the concept and focus, if even 10% of what is discussed adds value, it is time well spent.
Step 3: Delegate
Delegate correctly. This includes delegating responsibility. The more responsible people are for achieving results, the more they will contribute. And the more they contribute the more they are involved. You can read a post I wrote on delegation here.
Step 4: Accountability
You need to retain accountability. If you don’t your people will feel dumped on or abandoned. If it’s an environment of high change, where agility, speed, and adaptability are required then if you let go of accountability disorder and chaos can follow. Here is a video I created about accountability that might help.
Step 5: Handle Conflict
Learn how to manage conflict. As people become more engaged, they will take stands on issues and conflict will arise. Remember that conflict is one of the fundamentals of the creative process. Stifle conflict and you stifle innovation and growth. Let conflict go on to long without effect facilitation and relationships, communication and trust can break down.
Step: 6 Compromise kills
As the process continues, you will have people coming to you with different ideas on how things should be done. You may be faced with 2 or 3 workable courses of action. Here’s where your decision-making skills come in. It can be tempting to try and blend all 3 and come up with a compromise version.
If you do this, you will have a mish-mash that probably pleases or engages no-one and very likely have confused staff. Either use the ideas as a springboard to create a fourth or choose one option and put the person who came with it in charge. Then explain to everyone the rationale behind your decision, which will help them in the future.
Qualities you can’t buy
As a leader, you need to make people feel not just appreciated, but to have hope that their input is valued and faith that they are heard and make a difference. You can’t buy qualities like engagement, hope, faith, appreciation but when you have a workforce who demonstrate these qualities, you also have a workforce that will sweat blood to make things happen, whatever the circumstances.
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