One of the biggest business buzzwords today is engagement.Everyone suddenly seems to have realized that we need to have employees who are engaged in their work. It seems to be the latest “holy grail” in leadership and management circles (teams, lean and total quality are just three past examples).
Like the other examples, creating and nurturing engaged employees is important and will make a difference both for the individuals and the organization. I believe in the importance of engagement and the value of engaged employees. And I believe leaders can make a big difference in this area.
And, if these are my beliefs, you may be wondering why I opened on a bit of a cynical note?
Because I know many reading right now are thinking about “buzzword Bingo.”
I get that.
And, even though engagement may be the latest rage, it`s still an important topic for you to be familiar with – regardless of how you feel about the latest leadership fads.
(Leadership tip: I also know that when we acknowledge how others may be thinking and feeling up front we improve our ability to connect and communicate with them.)
If you agree that engagement is important and that we as leaders can do something about it, the logical next question is, what can we do? Here are four everyday actions any leader can take to support, build and nurture the engagement of team members.
The Four Ways
Acknowledge them. I`ve just given you an example of this one. One of our deepest human needs is to feel heard and acknowledged. It starts with listening but goes beyond that. We do not have to agree with people in order to acknowledge them and their perspective. The quicker we realize this, the more effective we will become.
Share the big picture. Do your folks know the big picture? Can they see past the work of your group to see how it impacts the larger organization? Do they know how your organization`s products make a difference for Customers? Positive answers to all of these questions are critical to creating engaged team members. If any of the answers are no for your team, this is job one for you as a leader. Once the answers are yes, you can remind, connect and reinforce these ideas every day.
Create meaning in daily work. People will be engaged when they feel like their work matters – that it makes a difference. Help people find that meaning. Certainly understanding the big picture will help. You also can do this by learning more about their needs, interests and skills and helping them see the connections between these and their work (or adjusting their work to create a better match). Another way to create meaning is to give people a more personal connection to Customers. When people meet or talk to those who use their work output (or the final products of the organization), the work isn`t just being done “because it is my job,” but to “actually help Carla the Customer.”
Trust them. Can you tell if someone trusts you? Do you try a little harder, pay a little more attention and remain a little more engaged for those who do? Your answers to these questions should be a big signal to you! Trust people. Show them in tangible ways that you do. When you do you will reap higher levels of engagement.
A Final Important Thought
One could look at these as tactics that could be used to manipulate others. Please know that if you choose to look at them in this way you will not be successful beyond the very short term – in any way. These activities will gradually create greater and greater engagement for your team members, but only when they are done authentically and genuinely.
By John Benson