Employee Engagement Strategies
Engaging the Hearts and Minds of Your People
I frequently get asked by our Elite community members for employee engagement strategies. If you struggle to get “buy-in” or ownership from your team or have people in your company who are just punching the clock while doing the minimum required to keep the job, read on!
But first, some additional context…
We spend all of our time working for and with 7-figure business owners who are working on themselves to make the shift to becoming 8-figure business leaders. That transition isn’t easy.
In order to grow their $1M+ business, entrepreneurs literally have to transform themselves from being the near-superhuman, carry-the-world-on-their-shoulders type of person who made everything happen to being a leader who sets a compelling Vision (link to Vision blog post) and builds a team to achieve it.
Of the 3% of businesses that ever make it to $1M in revenue, very few are led by entrepreneurs who are willing to do the work of becoming the leader they need to become in order for their 7-figure business to keep growing. Employee engagement strategies are key to making it all work.
And, if you want to know the financial reason for engaging your people… Every year Gallup (https://www.gallup.com/corporate/212381/who-we-are.aspx) publishes the results of a global employee engagement survey. The results are shocking. Year after year after year the survey reveals that more people are ‘disengaged’ in the workplace than ‘engaged’ costing their employers up to 34% of their annual salaries in lost productivity, lost business, waste, absenteeism and turnover. Needless to say, the cost of disengaged employees is high.
So, back to the question at hand – How can leaders engage the hearts and minds of their people?
- Care – It’s been said countless times… “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want to engage the hearts and minds of your people, they need to know that they are more to you than a number or a minion. You are leading people who have dreams, triumphs and personal struggles. You will engender a great deal of loyalty if you will approach people from a place of respect and humanity.
- Context – Helping people understand the “why” or the “big picture” always produces a better outcome than simply doling out marching orders with no context. If you effectively put the frame of the puzzle together (you know, all the flat edges to make the border of the jigsaw puzzle) and give your people the box with the picture of the puzzle on it, they can put the pieces in place efficiently. If you just give them pieces with no border and no reference picture, it will take them much, much longer to get the job done.
- Co-creation – Everyone feels more connected to the work when they have a hand in creating the goals and organizing the work. I’ve seen too many leaders opt for the “quicker” method of deciding direction on their own and rolling it out to the team. The time and energy invested up front to enroll people in a co-creative process to get clear on the desired outcomes and outlining the path to get there will yield a superior outcome in most business settings. I fully acknowledge the battlefield exceptions to this principle where a command and control approach is necessary to increase the chances of people staying alive. However, in most of our information-age, Millenial-filled workplaces, co-creation wins every time.
- 1:1s – If you have people reporting to you, I highly recommend a weekly check-in with each team member. This meeting doesn’t have to be long, but it should cover at least three things:
- Some personal connection – this could be as simple as asking about their family, their dog or a favorite hobby of theirs. Find something they want to talk about and that you genuinely care to know. This is the basis of a good relationship.
- Review performance – this is the heart of the 1:1. Every week you want to see eye-to-eye with your team member on how well the expected activities and/or results are being accomplished. Performance represents the value your team member provides in exchange for a paycheck every two weeks. You want to make sure you are getting sufficient value for your money.
- Offer support and coaching – if you have clearly identified measures for the expected performance, you get to put yourself in the role of a coach or supporter to achieve the objectives rather than having to judge or evaluate the performance. Use the weekly 1:1 to offer support and provide coaching to help your team member develop and perform better.
- Team Meetings – Like the 1:1, a weekly cadence for intact teams or work groups to meet is best. This is a key opportunity for you as a leader to keep everyone connected to the Purpose, Values and Mission of your company and to provide the necessary context for the team’s work. Effective leaders will also utilize team meetings to demonstrate care for individuals by acknowledging personal and professional milestones and accomplishments. Finally, this is an opportunity to engage team members in co-creating future plans or in finding solutions to current challenges. Strong teams produce great results, and a weekly team meeting can be artfully employed by a skilled leader to build a high-performing team.
- Company Meetings – Once a month you should gather everyone together to acknowledge accomplishments and challenges from the previous month and make sure everyone knows where the collective focus should be for the coming month. Even if the entire company is already meeting weekly in a Team Meeting, I recommend a monthly Company Meeting. The weekly Team Meeting will be more tactical in nature, coordinating on-going teamwork and dealing with current issues. The monthly Company Meeting will allow you to raise everyone’s sights back to the Mission, Strategy and current Priorities of the company. Connecting with the Purpose and Values through customer involvement and team member recognition are also great practices for this meeting.
If you will apply these employee engagement strategies I’ve outlined, you will see the engagement of your team increase, improving performance for your company. Not only will you experience the feeling of weight coming off of your shoulders as everyone takes some of the load, but you’ll begin to discover how fun it is to work with a fully engaged team.