In our latest blog titled Engagement Survey, Oh My! read here, Rory (1) challenged the practice of ineffective annual engagement surveys (they are really disengagement surveys, often going nowhere) in favor of flexible and ongoing processes for creating an engaged workforce. Managers need to be really connected and involved with their people all the time in order to make the engaging workplace come alive. Since employee engagement from the organization’s perspective was addressed in the blog, let’s take a look at what fuels engagement from the individual’s perspective. Though these tips are written with the employee in mind, they apply equally to managers/leaders as employees themselves.
How do you show up daily as an engaged and engaging manager? Here are a few tips to consider.
- Take employees’ ideas seriously, having a conversation and giving feedback. It is not enough to simply listen and be a conduit. Or worse still, offer all the reasons their idea won’t work. If a staff member brings a suggestion to you, such as having an onsite daycare center, rather than pass it along channels, spend the time to find out more. How do they envision it working? What ideas do they have about location? How many staff members would use it? Are there other ways to provide a daycare benefit without a dedicated space and staff? This time spent in conversation with thoughtful questions shows your relationship with the employee; you have the perspective about some of the questions that need to be addressed in order for their idea to have a greater chance of success. And you are offering yourself as a thought partner, which is empowering.
- Ask employees about their goals, daily goals as well as longer term ones. “What are you hoping to accomplish today?” Having a goal for your time is one way for the individual to be more engaged at work. Model the way by having a plan for what you want to accomplish, and share those goals of yours. Help staff see the value of contingency planning for when your plans go awry, as they often do. What happens if you can’t get the new proposal finished today? Can you send just part of it? Does something else need to be taken off your task list?
- Collect stories about meaning and contribution at work to share with others, and ask your staff how they know they have made a difference in their work today. Or how would they like to make a difference? Share your personal stories to get the conversation started, but make the conversation about them. Find out what gives them a sense of value and purpose in the work they do with you. Then ask if there is something you can do to further their experience of meaning and purpose at work.
- Have regular conversations about their strengths, noting them when possible, and suggesting ways for them to apply and BUILD ON those strengths. Gallup research tells us that an important employee satisfier is the regular opportunity to use one’s strengths at work. Perhaps a staff member is naturally skilled in diffusing difficult customer situations . . . You could suggest they share their tips with newer staff members, and/or offer them the opportunity to to take a class on de-escalation techniques and bring back the information to share at a department meeting. If you have an employee who has a background in visual arts, and has won awards in local contests, you might invite them to submit (or take) photos for your department’s report, newsletter, or wall art.
- Surround yourself with engaged people at work and in your personal life, understanding that positive attitudes can rub off, creating an atmosphere of more positivity. Listen for their examples. Nothing succeeds like success, the old adage tells us. And having an environment where you interact with engaged people regularly can help spark your own enthusiasm for whatever you are doing.
- Understand the reality of what you can control. Nothing is more disengaging than viewing the “whole world’s problems” and being disheartened or discouraged about a lack of progress. Engaged people have the ability to reframe situations they have control over, even though it may be limited, and finding the lens that focuses on what they CAN influence.
We hope you find these tips useful, and that you are privileged to work every day with employees who say, “I want to work in this organization, for you!”
- Rory Gilbert is a Thunderbird Leadership consultant who is the primary author of TLC’s blog, and contributor, collaborator and partner in Blog and Tips posts.
- https://www.hr.com/portals/hrcom/events ShanklandHandout_Gallup%20Q12%20summary%20-%20what%20is%20engagement.pdf (accessed via web 5/2/19)
- https://blessingwhite.com/4-steps-to-improve-your/ (accessed via web 4/29/19)
- https://brain-smart.com/change-and-resilience/increase-personal-engagement-work/ (accessed via web 4/29/19)