By Scott Philips
We have found that successful organizations have a number of elements in common, including a clear vision, matched values, strong leadership, and engaged/motivated employees, to name a few. A portion of our work at TruNorth Partners is to identify which motivators are most important to employees and measuring how well the organization matches or exceeds these expectations.
After compiling data from hundreds of employee surveys, these 5 elements have consistently risen to the surface as most critical to employee engagement and motivation:
So you say you are too busy and don’t have enough time to meet with your employees. While that may be partially true (by choice), your unavailability to your people unfortunately delivers one message: ‘you don’t matter’. More than anything else, employees want to know they matter, particularly to their immediate boss.
If you make time to meet with your team, you are sending a powerful message to each member: “You are what makes the business work and I am here to support your success.” If that message comes across loud and clear, they will make sure that they succeed… for you.
First simple step: Schedule ongoing one-on-one meetings with your individual reports. The size of your team will determine the regularity of meeting, but get those recurring appointments on your calendar and make them sacred.
Allocating time to meet is important, but equally important is the attention that you give to that employee during your time together. I’ve sat in on meetings where a leader was physically present, but not mentally absent. The lack of attention and focus was actually worse than not holding the meeting in the first place. A lack of mental presence with your employee confirms to him that you don’t value him.
So how do you communicate an employee’s value? You do it by listening, which is precipitated by questions. Asking questions forces you to listen and to find out the concerns of that employee. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth!
First simple step: Especially if you tend to dominate conversation in your one-on-one meetings, prepare for time with your employees by writing out questions ahead of time that solicit your employee’s opinions and level of engagement.
Where there is honest truth, there is a foundation of trust. Your employees want to trust you and want to be trusted by you. When you hide truth or cover up your feelings, they ultimately show up where and when you least expect them – in a public meeting, in front of a client, or in a way that’s hurtful to your employees or company.
As a leader, one of the best ways to receive trust is to demonstrate it. Let your people run a little bit and take ownership over projects or initiatives that require you to “let go” and leave more of the outcomes in their hands. Also, choose to be vulnerable, to right wrongs quickly, and to demonstrate respect to all people and in all situations.
First simple step: Let someone do something that you might typically do yourself, in the spirit of extending trust. Also, we recommend The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey as a great read that covers some really important territory on this topic.
Care and Concern.
Your employees are whole, layered and unique people; they aren’t just “the job”. Taking time to make a personal connection with your employee is another element that is critically important to their ongoing engagement and motivation. Ask about their families, their hobbies, what makes them tick outside of the workplace. Figure out their emotional triggers – what makes that individual happy, sad, encouraged, and motivated. Find out what their dreams are for the future.
It can be easy to ignore these topics with the justification that “this is a workplace – we don’t talk about personal stuff here.” Some people have more boundaries, true, but most people want to be known for more than just their job title. Personal connection can and should happen in the workplace (in a way that’s appropriate, of course), in a way that demonstrates care for the whole person. This is the element that makes work meaningful for many people.
First simple step: Observe your people for a week with the goal of identifying something that each person cares about outside of the workplace, possibly something you haven’t noticed before.
Recognize your people. There is public and private recognition, formal and informal, all of which are important to your employee’s sense of connection to their job and workplace. Recognition is about taking the time to really “see” a person’s contributions, and acknowledge that what they’ve done is important and has had an impact.
Build time into your team meetings for recognition (public). Build time into your one-on-ones to acknowledge good work that you’re seeing from your employee (private). Write letters of recommendation for your people (formal). Give your employees on-the-spot “attaboys” when things are moving in the right direction (informal). Affirmation is one of the greatest and most meaningful gifts you can give your employees.
First simple step: Look for something to appreciate and then practice appreciating using public, private, formal, or informal methods.
And there you have it! Our hope is that you are encouraged reading through these tips and recommendations. The great news is that it won’t cost you a million dollars for your team to be more engaged. If you want a boost to your organization’s desired outcomes (revenue growth, operational improvements, profits, cultural harmony), simply begin by connecting with your employees. Therein lies the key to amazing results. It doesn’t take much to produce significant outcomes. Be intentional and your employees will deliver.
Contact us today for more assistance in getting your team reengaged.