As yet another meeting dragged on, with Colin’s contributions mostly ignored, he decided that he had had enough. So he made the decision to leave the organisation; but mostly he made the decision to leave his boss.
The most important (business) relationship a person can have is with their immediate superior.
If that does not function well, then work can become at best tedious or uncomfortable, and at worst, toxic for the team member involved.
Managers who do not pay attention to some simple ways of interacting with their colleagues and team members risk losing vital talent, and costing their organisations thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, of pounds, dollars or euro.
4 Simple Ways to Engage Employees
Think about it now – what do you want from your boss? It’s surprising how many managers don’t do an audit from time to time of whether they are providing what they would actually want.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Here are some simple guiding principles to help employees feel engaged (they may also love you a little bit):
1. Communication – give clear direction.
Does your team member know what their goals are? Have you agreed the goals with him/her, recorded precisely what the goals are, and exactly how to measure them?
If you haven’t, then a conversation you had 3 months ago won’t be enough at performance review time. It’s also counter productive, as a team member may spend time on tasks that aren’t important.
In addition, what standards are expected? It’s all very well asking someone to write a report, but what exactly do you expect it to contain? Should it make recommendations or not? Or charts and graphs?
Be clear about standards you expect, and coach if they are not up to scratch.
2. Communication – be responsive.
I think most managers would agree that the ‘Command & Control’ style of management and communication is dead. Because most people won’t tolerate it any longer.
So, in communications with your team members, ask them for their ideas about solving issues that come up. And ask for feedback on events that happen in the business. Encourage questions and feedback between team members, to improve the innovation and standards within your team. (This includes your innovation and standards, of course.)
And then – this is vitally important – listen! I know, it’s radical! But it is still the case that many people in business are not really listening to the other person, they are simply waiting for a chance to speak themselves.
Or, as I once experienced in a meeting, a manager checking their Blackberry whilst I was trying to explain a serious issue to him. Unforgivable. My respect gauge hit zero within the space of 60 seconds.
You know when someone has really listened to your idea or complaint. What does that feel like? Like you matter, like validation, like you are part of a solution. Proper listening does not take great skill, but it does take attitude. Make sure yours is switched to positive.
3. Recognition – appreciation for a job well done.
Clearly, it is right and productive to correct mistakes others make at work, and look for improvements. It is also right and productive to praise someone who has done a good, or great, job.
The balance between corrective feedback and praising feedback is your choice. What is proven is that a combination of these gives both improvement in skills and knowledge to the team member and the motivation to do a great job.
4. Recognition – this is important work.
Why is your team doing what they do? Is it important in the larger scheme of things?
Make sure your team members are reminded periodically of why their contribution to the team, and to the organisation, is important. This can be highly engaging and motivational for many people. It is connected to the reason why people do charitable work: they do it because they feel that they are contributing in some way to something bigger than themselves.
To recognise the contribution people make is a significant factor in team relationships, and connects people to their own values, whether it’s ‘I like a job well done’, or ‘team is important’, or ‘I’m the expert’.
- Communication – give clear direction, and be responsive.
- Recognition – appreciate a job well done, and remind them that this is important work.