Jump Start Employee Engagement, Even Around the Holidays
As we near the close of 2019 and the start of 2020, it's natural for the end of the year to be a scheduling nightmare. Wrapping up projects before the end of Q4, family, and friends in town for the holidays, it's hard to stay focused and keep your team on track. Losing focus is easy this time of year, but it's also the most crucial time to stay on task.
There's a lot of chatter around the concepts of leadership and employee engagement. But these items can seem so elusive. How do you get people to care about their work?
The answer? It starts with you. Let's boil it down to an easy check-list of items that will up engagement for the whole team and close out your year with success.
1. Share Your Vision
Half the fun of going on a trip is thinking of the destination. Build that excitement and anticipation with your team by discussing your vision for the next year.
2. Talk About Your Purpose
People want to do more than show up at work, do eight hours, and get a paycheck. They want to feel like they are part of something important.
3. Involve People
If the leaders always make decisions, then it is easy for employees to check out. When they are checked out, they don't need to be involved or engaged. Ask people's opinions and let them help to make decisions.
4. Be Fair To Everyone
Your engineers or salespeople may appear to be the key to growing your business, and you may want to reward them. But when you reward them and keep on ignoring your other employees, you can create a "them and us" situation. Make sure to reward every role within the company for their contributions. You may not realize how one position supports another.
5. Create Trust
Leaders need to do what they say they are going to do. If they can't, then they need to explain why. Be transparent even when you don't have answers. People prefer to hear something rather than nothing.
6. Empower People
Employees are adults. We want to make decisions, our own choices. We want to take responsibility, decide our destiny, and be independent. When an employee is micro-managed, they tend to lose interest in what they do because the work becomes less about them and more about their manager. Help your employees to make decisions and initiate their actions.
7. Be Accountable
With empowerment comes accountability. People stop being engaged in an organization if they feel that the company doesn't hold people accountable. For example, the team member who always shows up late and leaves early, the boss's nephew who has ideas but not right for the job, and the CEO who talks about equality while promoting his or her friends.
8. Don't Just Ask for Input, Use It
Ask your employees to tell you what is working and what's not. Ask for and insist on honest and direct feedback. Employees usually know better than you about your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When you ignore their feedback, they disengage.
9. Ask for Solutions, Not Complaints
It's fine to have employees tell you what's wrong, but it's more helpful if they come up with issues AND possible solutions. Talking about what's wrong can be cathartic, but may not be empowering. Coming up with answers your team implements is very rewarding. Even coming up with suggestions that aren't implemented can still be satisfying if the employee understands and accepts why that solution doesn't work.
10. The Strategy is Everyone's Business
If senior management plans to diversify products from widgets to teddy bears, it's probably a good idea to have your employees help you create, design, and develop your strategy. They know about the frontline issues. The more they are involved with big-picture, the more they can offset any problems you may not see coming down the pipeline. They become excited about their future and the company's future.
11. Tell Stories
Many cultures use stories as ways of sharing wisdom. Tell stories about why the company does what it does. Share how the team is successful and how its people made that happen. Bringing these stories to the foregrounds helps connect employees with the company's mission. Engagement with stories helps engagement with your people.
Take time not just to talk about what went wrong but also what went right. And take time to celebrate. Not only holiday cards with a Starbucks gift card but regularly. Pizza, potluck, or a pat on the back are all kinds of celebration. Used consistently, authentically, and from the heart, they can be meaningful.
Make sure your salaries and wages match or exceed the market average. If they are not, know why and how you communicate that to your team. For example, you may be a start-up with huge potential for growth, so an employee takes a hit on money now to get a leg up in the future. Also remember to think about bonuses, profit-sharing, spot awards, and productivity or innovation prizes as part of a rewards program. Not thinking about rewards can cause problems with engagement.
14. Think of the Future
The present is now, but the future is what is possible. For many people, the excitement of an adventure as you go to new places can be very motivating. Be honest, open, and authentic with talking about what is possible.
15. Be Nice
If you are always telling your team to work harder, do more, and quicker, you will end up with demoralized teams. Being kind is not bad when you also empower and hold your employees accountable. Ask about someone's spouse and how she or he is doing after surgery. Congratulate someone on their kid winning his or her game. Remember the receptionist's birthday and wish them a Happy Birthday. Being thoughtful is good for business.
Our New Year's Resolution for you and your team is to start 2020 energized and engaged. Not only will these ideas increase output, but it will make reporting to work more enjoyable for all.