- January 24, 2022
- Posted by: Joan H. Underwood
- Categories: Business, Leadership, People
Best practice employee engagement companies educated team leaders on a new way of managing – relying on high development and strengths-based competencies. And they held managers accountable for these competencies.
Why This Matters
In our previous article on Employee Engagement, we cited Gallup’s published research indicating that engagement has a statistically significant correlation with customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability and an inverse correlation with absenteeism, shrinkage/theft and quality defects. In today’s blog post, we turn our attention the drivers of engagement. A high level summary of those findings is displayed below.
There has been extensive research into the drivers of employee engagement. Based on my review of such research and my own consulting work in both the public and private sectors, leaders who consistently manifest the following actions are most effective in driving both engagement and high performance in their teams.
1. Communicate Clear Strategy and Direction
Communication is always important. However, when it comes to employee engagement you simply cannot expect your people to put in that extra effort when they have no idea where you are going and how you propose to get there. Employees need that clarity of purpose to give you the benefit of their creativity and problem-solving capacity. Without it, they will have to depend on you to lay out the next step. That’s not exactly a winning formula for building momentum and accelerating performance. The bottom line is that confused people are not very productive.
2. Inspire and Motivate
Employees are more likely to go the extra mile when they believe that their efforts are making a positive difference – not just in the organisation but in the wider society. That conviction engenders higher levels of commitment, loyalty, and enthusiasm. It serves to satisfy an unmet need within the individual. When leaders can connect to that unmet need within members of their team, it takes overall performance to a higher level.
3. Establish Stretch Goals
Setting goals helps to bring even greater focus than one gets from having a clear strategy. Stretch goals set the bar and provide a framework for personal satisfaction and accountability. Involving the members of team in setting the goals yields an even higher dividend as it produces a sense of ownership leading to higher engagement as they strive to deliver on the challenge they helped to establish. The fact that the goals represent a stretch target is linked to a significant sense of accomplishment.
4. Inspire Trust
Team members will go the extra mile for a leader they consider to be competent, of good character, benevolent and consistent. These factors are fundamental building blocks of trust. When a leader calls on the team to do more or go further in a context where there is a strong foundation of trust, that leader is likely to receive the benefit of the doubt and the accumulated positive regard.
5. Develop Others
The members of your team are more than just units of production. Leaders who recognize the humanity of their team members are more likely to invest time and other resources in developing those individuals. In addition to generating goodwill, such investments create engagement and the associated benefits of enhanced productivity and commitment. In a labour market where engagement levels hover at a dismal 20%, employers and leaders who have a reputation for developing others have an edge in recruitment and retention.
6. Solicit and Accept Feedback
To build and sustain employee engagement, leaders must lead by example when it comes to soliciting and receiving feedback. In addition to covering business operations so that potential and actual problems are surfaced quickly, feedback should include the leader’s performance. If the team doesn’t think that it is safe to speak candidly, leaders may find themselves in the position of the emperor with no clothes. Everyone may see the truth, but no one may be engaged or invested enough to say or do anything about it.
When leaders deliver on these six things, they not only drive engagement but also business results. So, how do the leaders in your organisation measure up? How can you leverage this information to help take your engagement and business performance to the next level?
If you are a member of the team and not part of the leadership, to what extent do you see these behaviours in your organisation? How does their presence (or absence) affect how you feel about the job?