Do you manage by walking around? What do you see? People excited about their job or people just going through the motions?
When employees care about their work and their company —when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.
This means the engaged computer programmer works overtime when needed, without being asked. This means the engaged retail clerk picks up the trash on the store floor, even if the boss isn’t watching. This means the nurse comes into your room to see how you’re doing in addition to just giving you your meds.
So how do you, as a manager or business owner, turn “it’s just a job” employees into engaged, energized employees?
Here are seven actions, that do not cost much if anything, yet have great impact. Which ones will work with your workforce?
1. Spend time out in the field. Ask your employees how you can help make their jobs easier. Work alongside them and even let them teach you what they do. Southwest Airlines has a mandate that every manager must spend 1/3 of his or her time in direct contact with employees and customers to create a stronger feeling of teamwork.
2. Celebrate everything you can. For example, meeting of short term goals, the end of the budget process, winning grants or new customers, extraordinary work, safety successes.
3. Hold informal “grapevine sessions” to control the flow of the rumor mill. Managers must be prepared to listen and to be completely truthful and open. Even when they can’t share specific information, they can honestly explain why and when it will be available.
4. Let people know what they do is important. Help your workers focus not on only a job description but also on how they fit into the big picture. That new sense of purpose will boost their self-esteem and motivation.
5. Don’t let respect slip under the radar screen. If you treat your employees with respect you will earn their respect. For example, if you pay attention to and take care of your front-line people, they will in turn pay attention to and take care of the customer. Start with daily greetings. Remember their birthdays or other important dates. Take an interest in their interests. Say thank you for a job well done.
6. Take them serious. There’s incredible brainpower all around you, so why not put it to work? You hired your employees because you thought they could make a valuable contribution. Ask for their suggestions to problems. Include them in decisions that affect their work. Give them enough authority that goes with their responsibility.
7. Work for your people. Listen and act quickly on their questions. Clear the way so they can do their jobs well. Once people see their leader as acting for them, or on their behalf, they develop a personal loyalty that energizes their performance.
Smart Moves Tip:
So why is employee engagement so important? Here’s one way to answer that question: An employee that not only sees the glass half full but wants to contribute to the filling of the glass. That’s important because engaged employees lead to higher service, quality and productivity; which leads to higher customer satisfaction; which leads to increased sales (repeat business and referrals) which leads to better business outcomes.
As former Campbell Soup CEO, Douglas Conant said: “to win in the marketplace you must win in the workplace.” Do you agree? Are you winning with engaged employees? Get the business edge with Talent Keepers.
Copyright © 2012 Marcia Zidle – The Actualizer: Leadership Performance Coach.