As a leader, there are times when ensuring that your employees are engaged can feel like a significant challenge – and worse still, one that we don’t have much time nor patience in solving.
However, while the formal and perhaps rigidly structured nature of an annual performance appraisal is sometimes stressful for all concerned, we can make life easier with more regular and informal reviews, based around seven simple questions for every leader to answer and communicate to employees.
More on those questions in a moment, but firstly here’s another one – why is employee engagement critical? Well, if you don’t get it right, you could end up in one of these types of scenarios...
One director said this to me about an over-ambitious and under-performing employee:
“I just won’t throw the good projects at him, and he’ll eventually leave.”
And another frustrated leader who, over repeated attempts to connect with a “self silo-ed” team member, told me with a tone of resignation:
“He goes to someone else now for direction. I can’t get through to him.”
Employee engagement survey
Gallup’s most recent survey found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged, while one-quarter of employees report being actively disengaged. I’m betting you can recall a time in your career when you were not engaged. By this, I mean simply putting in the time, but with no energy or passion for the work – sleepwalking, as it were, through your day.
The costs of this situation are alarming in terms of employee turnover alone. For architectural practices and construction firms, additional costs include lower productivity and low retention of experienced staff and in particular senior women.
Converting your employees into engaged workers is the most effective strategy for increased performance and growth. As a manager, the opportunity is there to not only shift staff members from the “I’m waiting for you to leave” pile and into the “We now understand each other and can move forward” pile, but to engage all employees in a more considered and strategic manner.
Employee engagement ideas
I have found that a few simple behaviours can make a huge difference towards improving engagement. There are many straightforward strategies to engage and mobilise your employees or team members. Costing almost nothing to implement, they can be put in place immediately and have huge impact. Although engagement is vital at an organisational level, it starts with each individual and is based on their unique aspirations, motivations and style.
For instance, one opportunity many leaders have is to give more frequent, informal feedback about how each employee is doing. This way, everyone in an organisation knows what is expected of them and how they can get better at what they’re supposed to be doing.
The seven questions
Small, informal conversations about performance can go a long way – frequency counts - especially when you include teachable moments about different situations and details. Managers should consider the following questions when preparing to communicate with individual workers:
What do I expect from you?
What are you doing well?
What, if anything, can you be doing better?
What, if anything, do I want you to do better?
What will happen if you improve (e.g. more responsibility, more time with leadership, more desirable projects)?
What will happen if you don’t improve?
How can I help?
The final question is especially important. It shows the employee that you care and are not merely abdicating responsibility or shifting the blame.
I have an 11-point methodology for helping your leaders improve employee engagement using simple but powerful strategies. These include:
Skills to clearly set expectations and communicating about performance on a regular, informal basis.
How to understand each employee and help them achieve their professional aspirations.
Adapting style and leadership strategy depending on each employee’s performance, talents and unique potential.
Communicating with a full set of messages that employees want and need to hear.
Being available as a source of support to assure employee success.
If you’d like to know more about engaging and motivating your employees then please give me a call to discuss.