Employee engagement has been the buzz term for several years. While many leaders appreciate the importance of engagement, few of the leaders we speak with regularly have a sustainable action plan to drive engagement.
Dale Carnegie and MSW Research conducted a study of over 1500 employees, to discover what creates engaged employees. Three key drivers emerged that are important for almost every leader and organization:
An employee’s relationship with their direct manager
An employee’s belief in senior leadership
The pride an employee has in working for the company or organization
In addition to the broader actions that every organization should take to engage employees, there are four immediate actions you can take to support these three drivers.
1. Get to Know People
An employee’s relationship with their direct manager is a key driver for the employee’s engagement with the organization. When this relationship is poor, it’s also one of the most common causes of turnover.
One starting point it to get to know people and what drives their interests. In our leadership courses, we teach a three-step model to help you get to know the people you are working with in a meaningful way. The steps include:
We recently produced a detailed outline and audio overview on how to do this. Plus, here’s an audio demonstration of exactly how it sounds in practice.
If you make a genuine connect with people, you’ll start (or continue) the relationship with shared respect that lays a foundation for real engagement.
2. Make Your Performance Metrics Clear
All things being equal, most people are willing to help their manager and organization in achieving goals. That’s one reason we always encourage employees to come to their manager with solutions, rather than problems.
However, we often hear the complaint, “I’m not clear on what my manager wants.” Sadly, a lot of managers and organizations are not explicitly clear on defining what success looks like. It’s hard for people to support goals they aren’t clear on.
In his most recent episode of The Look & Sound of Leadership, Tom Henschelcoaches leaders on how to define success for others. If you define success clearly, you’ll give people a clear roadmap on the actions they can take to make a difference. That’s huge if you care about employee engagement.
3. Encourage Senior-Level Dialogue
Even if people are engaged with an immediate manager, belief in the senior leadership team is essential for engagement. One way to foster this is for you to encourage relationship-building with senior leaders.
Some managers are hesitant to do this, fearing that encouraging dialogue between their team and more senior leaders will leave them out of the loop. More often, the opposite is true.
Many senior leaders notice when efforts are made to connect the team with the overall strategy of the organization.
If your organization has a decent mentoring program, utilize it in order to help engage people with other leaders. The relationships they build will strengthen your entire team. If your senior leadership team is competent in their work, more dialogue will enhance your team’s belief in them.
4. Tell Organizational Success Stories
Almost every organization has stories they are proud of. Your team or the broader organization inevitably has great stories of what’s been done to help the industry, make people’s live better, or contribute to the greater good.
Get these stories out there. Start staff meetings by going around the table and asking people to share good news. Encourage people to tap into company resources that highlight past successes. Become a storyteller yourself and be sure that recent and past achievements are shared.