Your employees show up to work day in and day out, they get their tasks done, and they may even enjoy their jobs – they are satisfied. But are they engaged? Your employees should come to work everyday feeling fully absorbed, enthusiastic and committed. They should feel driven and excited to take the extra mile. They should feel passionate!
According to Gallup, less than 33% of Americans are engaged at work. This number should be considered a crises! Imagine the impact this has on our global economy. Imagine the impact it has on YOUR business. How? Think of it this way: nobody washes the rental. The only way people are going to go the extra mile is when they feel ownership and commitment. That extra mile is the difference between the mediocre products, results, outcomes and impacts and the exceptional ones. Bain research has found a direct relationship between employee advocacy and customer advocacy. Not only will engaging your employees increase productivity, but it will also increase your customers’ loyalty (and referrals)!
Even if you think you already know how your employees feel about their jobs, ask them! Without engaged leaders, there will not be space for engaged employees. One way to be a more engaged leader is to genuinely take an interest in your employees and show them that you care. This doesn’t mean you need to ask them about their recent break up or doctor’s appointment. But asking them if they feel engaged, or better yet, what can be done to get them even more engaged is perfectly appropriate and has its benefits for both of you.
Consider these approaches to more effectively engaging your employees:
Avoid Unintentional Tension
Assuming the way an employee is going to act, instead of encouraging them to be their authentic self, is going to create tension that might cause the employee to disengage or even become bitter towards the leader and company. Instead of expecting them to behave a certain way, allow your employees to be creative and seek out opportunities for growth or advancement.
Look For The Good
Instead of criticizing all of the things your employees are doing wrong, identify what they do well and enjoy doing. Take notice of what gets them excited. Letting them explore their strengths and use them to contribute will get them feeling more passionate and willing to take the extra mile.
Stop micromanaging! Let go, step back, observe. Give your employees responsibilities that build up their confidence. If they fail, be there to help them regroup and get back on track. This goes back to giving them ownership.
Let Them Influence
Observe how your employees engage in a position of power and influence. How do they lead and collaborate with other employees? How do others react towards them? How do they react to the position? If an employee feels trusted and valued, and feels like they can make an impact on the company, they are a lot more likely to feel engaged.
Share Your Journey
Share your experience with them. You have become more successful, but you started somewhere, too. Let them know how you got to where you are. What did you do that set you ahead? What failures did you experience along the way and how did you recover? Employees want a leader that they can relate to and feel proud of. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing a good job when your leader is always perceived as perfect.
Have Their Backs
Employees are vulnerable. They might not know exactly who they can trust or rely on. However, they should feel secure about relying on you to support them. Leaders lose top talent all the time because of this problem. And the problem is not with the employee … its with YOU, the leader. Don’t let this happen in your workplace. Make sure you’re communicating and practicing what you preach.
Talk About The Impact, Not The Numbers
In some cases employees need to hear the numbers, but it’s extremely important to tell them about the impact results have made on the world. This is especially important for your younger employees (Gen Xers and Millennials).
Employees who work for leaders who inspire them are more committed, engaged and productive. Their engagement is related to their leaders’ ability to inspire them, not their leaders’ ability to manage tasks. Reward executives for this as much as you reward them for their results. Believe me, the results will shift as employee engagement rises.
Having employees who are satisfied is okay, but having employees who advocate for the organization is much better! They will do this when they feel engaged.
Employee engagement is measurable and powerful. It makes the difference between an organization that is struggling and one that is thriving. It’s your job as a leader to generate and encourage employee engagement. It is never too late!