Guest Post by Jane Sparrow: Making Engagement Happen - Tips for HR

Guest Contributorby Jane Sparrow | Posted | Engagement

Guest Post by Jane Sparrow: Making Engagement Happen - Tips for HR

This guest post is by recent Halogen webinar guest speaker, author and frequent CIPD speaker, Jane Sparrow.

In this post, Jane explores the five key roles managers can play to build and sustain high performance cultures, and to serve as strategic levers to boost and sustain employee engagement.

Enabling managers to have the confidence and capability to be great engagers is the only way to truly build and sustain a high performance culture.

To discuss this concept further, let's look at 'Sara', an employee who has been with her company for five years.

Sara works hard, has recently gained a promotion and is popular with her peers and management alike. She enjoys her job and rarely has time off sick. But she isn't highly engaged. She is a 'Saver'.

'Savers' vs 'Investors'

Look around your organisation and you will spot many more 'Savers'. They are usually hard working, diligent employees who are committed to the company. Thanks to corporate communication programmes and initiatives, they often have a clear understanding of the business and know what is expected of them.

While regular communication with employees about the business is important, I don't believe this is where long-term, meaningful engagement actually happens.

Employees like Sara are the bedrock of many companies but whilst every organisation needs 'Savers', they alone are not enough to create the performance levels that a business needs to excel and deliver exceptional results.

If companies are serious about increasing engagement for performance, HR needs to up its stakes and create a strong community of 'Investors'.

'Investors' are employees who are willing to invest more of themselves in an organisation. Just like 'Savers', they are clear about the aims of the organisation and are committed to its success. But, crucially, they also feel a sense of genuine attachment to their employer because of a deep sense of value from the relationship.

Waitrose (the UK supermarket chain) represents this concept well. The people who work in its stores are partners in the business. However, 'Investors' don't have to have share certificates in the organisation.

'Investors' are the employees who see a deep connection between their own personal values and purpose and those of the business. In day-to-day terms, they are the employees who are more willing to be an advocate for the brand and will demonstrate this, for example, by offering excellent customer service.

So, how can HR help create a culture of 'Investors?'

HR often owns the employee communication remit and that activity goes a long way to creating 'Savers'. However, true engagement and the creation of 'Investors' requires managers and leaders to be masters at engaging employees. They need HR to give them the processes and infrastructure but also the development, confidence, coaching and counsel to do this well.

For example, a strong performance management system that doesn't get tangled up in process and complexity is crucial. It's also important to ensure that any performance measurement really does have the performance of people at its heart.

The message will be loud and clear: we measure people performance because the performance of our employees is the most significant measure of our business success.

To create 'Investors', HR has a responsibility to ensure the right level of development for every line manager - not just senior leaders. It is line managers who are the game changers on a daily basis when it comes to driving engagement, but they need proper support and development to do so.

This is where I have identified the five roles of manager as culture-builder. When managers are strong in each of these roles, they will unlock tremendous potential in their people. High performance will follow for their teams, the business and the entire organisation.

Senior leaders, too, need to be super-charged across all the roles - because it is great role models that unlock the potential of their direct reports.

Five Key Roles to Create More Investors in Your Organisation

Here's a quick overview of the five roles to build a more engaged workforce and the skills needed to be a great engager:

Image sourced via The Culture Builders.

The Prophet is all about passion, vision and inspiration. Prophets paint a visual picture of the future in a highly emotive way that others can get hold of and want to be part of.

The Prophet in action:

When Fujio Nishida, President at Sony Electronics in Europe, arrived in the region, the company was suffering in the market. He immediately started to focus on his people and created a rallying call for action and transformation. Nishida galvanized his people by outlining his vision for revitalization, branded 'Fu-katsu' (meaning 'revitalisation' in Japanese).

Once the journey began and progress was evident, he kept determinedly future-focused and introduced the idea of 'Hiyaku' (meaning 'soaring growth' in Japanes). Fujio Nishida stands out as an exemplary Prophet by embracing visionary, aspirational and emotive language that kept everyone focused on the future.

Tips for HR

Remind your managers they too are Prophets: what does the vision for their specific team look like? Encourage your people managers to set a vision they are confident about using with their team and remind them keep it current

The Storyteller uses an emotional and logical mix to bring the story to life about how we will achieve the vision and live our purpose.

Storyteller in action: Carlos Britto, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, is a passionate speaker who goes far beyond rational, dry messages to bring the company's values to life. An impactful Storyteller, Britto uses powerful narrative, enriched with metaphors that colour his stories with simple but personal experiences and reflections.

For example, he discusses ownership in business with an analogy of "You drive a rental car differently because at the end of the day, you hand the car back to the company and you don't have to live with the consequences of your driving...."

Tips for HR

Consider how you tell the story of your organisation's People Strategy or how you can change the way you work with the business and how you could strengthen it to lead by example.

The Strategist has a plan to engage every person in his team or under his influence. He knows who his talent is and he has a retention and development plan for each of them.

The Strategist in action: Gabby Redfern, Senior Vice President, Media Operations at Discovery International, was highly intentional when it came to engaging her team around a new business challenge. She set specific, clear goals and helped everyone see their progress towards them and she made a phenomenal effort to know everyone in the organisation, working across time zones and locations to reach out to all of them, and built a clear picture of the talent across her teams.

Strategists are fully up to speed with their talent, and will explore opportunities to develop and support them, as well as ensuring they are kept at the forefront of future talent planning.

Because they understand the specific engagement levers for their people, they use this insight to support the appraisal process and to support the retention strategy for them. They keep a good record of performance and performance levers so that they can help ensure fast track career paths.

Tips for HR

The Strategist role is one of the lowest preferences for most managers so HR plays a critical role in helping them see the value of planning and making engagement work. It starts with managers building stronger relationships with their team and exploring what makes each individual's heart beat.

With this insight, managers can then equip team members with the incentives and motivation that most engages them at a personal level and ultimately secure a clear engagement plan for every single person, regardless of their role or title.

The Coach is a manager who understands what makes the individual's heart beat. She works with that knowledge and helps her employees grow and deliver more value.

Coach in action:

Leaders can help everyone to flourish by creating a culture of development. Stuart Fletcher, former International President at Diageo and now CEO at BUPA, is passionate about getting the best from people and saw this as a critical part of his role at Diageo.

He committed at least 10% of his time each year to directly engaging with management and staff throughout the business. He met them through formal 'town-hall' sessions held in each country but also invested in one-to-one meetings, coaching sessions and mentoring conversations with individual managers across the world.

His dedication to developing others and, crucially, role-modelling this behaviour for other leaders and managers is one key reason Stuart believes Diageo experienced phenomenal growth across its international business.

Tips for HR

HR can have a huge impact by coaching managers to have better coaching-style conversations with their people. Managers need to understand the importance of providing employees formal and informal feedback on an ongoing basis.

Managers should work continuously - and take training as needed - to improve how they communicate, set goals, give feedback, develop employees, recognize and reward performance, and build trust.

The Pilot is the measured, calm component of being a manager steering his people in the direction they need to go to reach their goals. His goal is to be the respected role model, the 'parental' adult with one hand on the tiller.

Pilot in action:

In 2009 HBOS merged with Lloyds, bringing together two different cultures and with it a huge level of employee anxiety and mistrust in a difficult financial market. Leaders and managers had a critical role to play in ensuring people were treated fairly and employees remained engaged.

Gordon Lyle, former HR Director of HBOS, encouraged leaders and managers to be as visible and accountable as they could and to keep talking to employees, even if it meant having to admit there were things they didn't know. It was a huge lesson in empathy, trust and openness that resulted in a much smoother transition than could have otherwise been the case.

Tips for HR

Remind managers and leaders that employees will always look to them for clues on what is really happening and why. Their tone of voice is an important example of how people will 'hear' the message and decipher what it 'really' means.

HR, change the way you work with the business

To build a culture of 'Investors, it is clear that HR has an impact by role modelling the five roles, as well as encouraging and supporting managers to do the same.

It is this deliberate and conscious application of the roles that enables managers to help more 'Saver's' feel a deeper and more personal connection with what they do. And ultimately build a culture of performance, rather than one of survival or status-quo.

Jane recently presented on topic in a recent webinar titled, 'Engagement for performance: How HR can unlock value of the middle manager'. Sponsored by Halogen Software UK, you can access the webinar on-demand.

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