Businesses with engaged employees perform better. In fact, companies that invest in employee engagement perform as much as 202 percent better than companies with low engagement. I found that tidbit in an article by Recruitment Advisor that says it's the #1 recruitment stat from 2017 that should motivate you in 2018. Are you motivated yet? I know I am!
When you look deeper at the employee engagement stats published by Dale Carnegie, however, you will see that many of the statistics and tips point to the importance of employees' belief in the abilities of their leaders, and, more specifically, the quality of the relationships with their managers.
That's why, if you want to crack the code on engaging those you lead, it may be time to shift your focus from engagement initiatives to personally and deliberately engaging in the everyday conversations that matter most to those you lead.
Here are three types of conversations you can have with those you lead to increase engagement:
1. Create meaning
Dale Carnegie's Tip # 1 is "senior leadership must articulate a clear vision to all employees." While that is a good start, this all too often means the leaders speak and the employees listen. Unfortunately, until someone has the chance to speak about the vision in terms of how it applies to them personally, your vision will never have the same level of meaning for your employees that it does for you.
Meaning is created only through a conversation, not a presentation.
Instead of presenting the vision, design a conversation about the vision. Of course, you can start by sharing the vision, the background, the goals and what it means to you personally. But engagement will not happen until you ask your employees what it means to them. Then, give them a chance to connect what they do and what matters to them to the vision.
2. Foster connection
People are not cogs to be used up in the pursuit of production, but rather resources that must be invested wisely if you are to achieve your highest level of potential as an organization.
This means you need to focus just as much effort on clarifying the connection between people as you do on defining the individual roles people need to carry out. Said another way, consider that the questions, "What are we counting on each other for?" and "Why and to whom does what we are working on matter?" are just as important to performance as "What will you do and what will I do?"
Here are some real-life tips for fostering relational connections (rather than transactional connections):
- Actively engage employees in conversations about what matters to them
- Appreciate the value publicly of what individuals bring
- Take the time to talk about why you are doing what you are doing together at this moment in time, not just about how you are going to get it done.
3. Fuel empowerment
To be empowered is to have the freedom to choose. Consider these questions: would you perform better in a job that you chose to do or a job you felt you had no choice of taking? Would you give more of yourself to a project you own and have the power to direct or to a project where you will be told what to do and micro-managed every step of the way?
At the heart of engagement is a choice to be a part of and to contribute to something that matters to the individual. Only when you truly know what matters to people, can you can offer them the opportunities that will draw them to invest themselves fully. Also, keep in mind it's not just about what someone is asked to do or participate in. They may choose to do something they don't really want to do and, nonetheless, be fully engaged, simply because it matters to something or the people they care about.
Just as change happens one purposeful conversation at a time, so too does engagement.
The level of engagement that drives exceptional results is created through a consistent process of engaging people in conversations that create meaning, foster connection and fuel empowerment.
When you actively engage people in the everyday conversations that matter to them, the outcome is that they will begin to naturally engage themselves more fully in those conversations that matter to you and your organization.