Employee engagement ideas remain a hot topic, whether for CIOs, IT managers, or any industry leader. My personal experience with engagement was one in which everyone knew the culture and understood its core values before joining. When you live your company values, employees are more engaged.
Specifically, I am referring to my time in an all-volunteer Army. If a soldier didn’t feel they were in the right place after their initial enlistment, they re-evaluated their decision to join and they moved on; that was a blessing.
Images courtesy tigger11th at freedigitalphotos.net
The Importance of Values
When leaders set the example by living the company values and hold others accountable, everyone recognizes their part in sustaining the company culture that attracted them in the first place. They feel they can pursue their personal values in a safe environment and they realize that they must play an active role. Consequently, they will be more engaged.
Search the term “employee engagement” and you’ll find different definitions. Here’s a definition and opinion of employee engagement from a UK report, “Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance Through Employee Engagement:”
“Employee engagement is when business values the employee and the employee values the business.”
“The most important thing is for an organization to be able to arrive at a shared definition in the context of their business, and for this to translate into action.”
– MacLeod & Clarke, Crown
Both statements are simple, but very insightful.
5 Employee Engagement Ideas
In the U.S., Gallup has been studying and measuring employee engagement for years, assigning metrics to help leaders manage and improve performance. Here are my 5 takeaways. For more insights into how for each takeaway, explore the links within each section.
- Company Values – employees want to have pride in their organization
People want to join an organization where the company values align with their personal values. When an employee joins your organization, they are preparing to spend more than 50% of their time awake working, commuting, or thinking about that job. No person wants to invite the stress that comes with working for a company where they cannot align their personal and professional values.
If your employees’ values do not align with your corporate values, they won’t be engaged, or worse, they’ll be disengaged. Either way, living your values creates the environment and corporate culture that everyone will experience, the most important element toward improving employee engagement.
Communicate your values so that employees know what to expect.
- Leadership – dedicated managers with a passion for the cause
If a manager doesn’t believe in the cause, he or she will never inspire others to action. Leaders, on the other hand, are committed to the mission, and they support the vision with passion. This inspires those they lead and promotes self-motivated teams.
In sports, the best managers have a passion for the game. In the arts, the best conductors are passionate about the music. You get the idea. In business, the best managers are leaders because they are passionate about the organization’s cause and they inspire others to follow their lead.
The best exhibit leadership traits such as making new members feel welcome, they value each member’s contributions, and they help everyone learn and grow as individuals.
- Individual Development and Growth — Employees who can support the cause and feel supported in return
Unlike management, who typically understands the corporate purpose and goals best, sometimes employees don’t receive the message and feel left out. People want to feel like their contributions make a difference.
The only way to instill that feeling is to get them to realize the same vision that you see, how their role is essential, and how they can satisfy their responsibilities by achieving their assigned goals. You help them feel like they matter when you work with them, together, to set and achieve individual goals and when you support their learning and growth.
Your employees recognize the varying levels of ability among their peers. Therefore, leaders must also recognize each employee’s development level and respond with the directing, coaching, supporting, or delegating leadership style , as appropriate.
When employees feel they are operating in an environment where everyone will be held to a standard, they begin to feel a sense of fairness. That establishes trust, which leads to more cooperation and teamwork.
- Here are some ideas for your employee development plan
- Teamwork — Teams who support the cause
As the team develops, they begin to help one another, holding each other accountable to the desired standards.
- Why? Deep down, everyone wants to be a part of something greater.
When a leader creates that environment of trust, members begin to learn and grow together. Now, meeting the corporate standard and achieving its goals becomes a matter of organizational pride, for every member.
- How great is that?
One of the well-known success stories is the military’s practice of the After Action Review (AAR). At the end of any training exercise, participants meet in a respectful, “gloves off” session where all parties have the opportunity to share what they observed.
Sometimes, this amounts to recognizing procedures that the group deems should be continued. Other times, the group identifies practices that either need improvement or simply failed to meet the standard.
There is no holding back during an AAR; however, the cardinal rule is to attack the action or event, not the person. Ultimately, the AAR process is an experience in open communication.
- Communication – an open, candid exchange of ideas that support the cause
It all starts with your ability as a manager to communicate, build your team, and lead them to achieve your goals. Ideally, you’ll create the environment where “business values the employee and the employee values the business” and lead your team to greatness.
Whether you are a CIO, an IT manager, or a leader in any industry, check out Why CIOs Need to Learn Another Language.
- Have you ever wondered why you relate better with some people?
- What about those with a communication style different than yours?
- Where is your/their focus… goals, people, relationships, or tasks?
- Would you like to discover your communication style?