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You Want Engagement? Then Start Being Clear!

You Want Engagement? Then Start Being Clear!

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      How to keep the wheels turning even when you aren’t looking…

      The Problem: you want your staff to go the extra mile. You want your team to take some risks. You want your employees to ‘get the big picture’ and do what it takes to make it happen. You want the wheels to stay on the bus even when you aren’t there.

      What you want is engagement. But no one’s buying. If you want something done you have to spell it out in detail, or just give up and get to that ugly “I’ll just do it myself” place of the defeated manager. You feel like every time you turn your back, the wheels come off the bus again. You’ve got zero engagement.

      Engagement was defined by John Gibbons (writing for the Conference Board) as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”. Notice the line from emotional connection to greater discretionary effort.

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      Discretionary effort is the phrase that describes what every employer wants: for the employee to figure out what is needed for success in the bigger picture, and to do whatever is needed to get there – without anyone standing over their shoulder… Stuff just gets done.

      So how do you get your team to this place? What do we require to become fully engaged? In my experience, three things are needed: clarity, hope, and commitment.

      Clarity
      In his book The One Thing You Need to Know… Marcus Buckingham writes that the one thing you need to know about great leadership is “Discover what is universal, and capitalize on it.” Buckingham tells us that what is universally required of leadership is clarity. Specifically, an optimistic clarity about the future.

      We’ll work our hearts out for you (that’s discretionary engagement) if you can make us see with crystal clarity the great future we are all headed for.

      Leadership is the work of leaders. That means get out front and lead. You must see what others cannot yet see. You must see the future with an optimistic clarity that inspires others to follow. Leadership does not just require clarity; leadership is clarity.

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      If you can’t see the future more clearly and more optimistically than the rest of us, what makes you a leader?

      Hope
      If there is clarity about the future, then the next link in the chain is possible: hope.

      Hope, as I have defined it, has two components: an optimistic vision of the future, and the belief that we have what it takes to get there. As a leader your clarity of vision creates the precondition for that kind of hope. We must see where we are going, and we must believe it is a place worth getting to, before we decide to invest our blood, sweat, and tears to get there! The success of every great religious leader, every reformer, every leader of any expedition across any ocean or continent has been dependent on their clarity of just how much greener that grass over there is.

      When we can see that where we are headed is better than where we are now, clarity becomes hope.

      Great managers play a critical role in inspiring hopefulness in teams. With their defining work in understanding the strengths of every employee (Buckingham again), great managers help us understand exactly what our role is, and leverage our strengths in achieving the goals of the organization. Great managers support our contribution by constantly encouraging further growth where they know we are strong, and by giving us opportunities to use those strengths for the greater good.

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      Great managers act as match-makers between our strengths and the jobs that need to get done. The result, when all is right, is that powerful feeling of a team that is firing on all cylinders, and every member is clear about their role in the success of the overall project. And like so much in life, success builds more success: feeling like we are successful contributors to the greater good, and being part of a successful initiative, builds the confidence and hopefulness that leads to more success.

      When clarity and true hopefulness exist in an organization, the stage is set for the third component of total engagement: commitment.

      Commitment

      When our leaders give us clarity and hope about our futures and the future of the organization, the stage is set for us to make a commitment. Starting on a journey of change and growth requires clarity and hope. But there is no journey at all without commitment. Commitment is the action piece. It’s time to start walking. Commitment is, to paraphrase Nike Corp., ‘just doing it’.

      If organizational change sometimes feels like going over a cliff, then clarity is envisioning just how we will make the tricky descent, and hope is the confidence we will make it to the bottom in one piece. Commitment is taking the first step over the edge. Commitment is the point at which there is no turning back.

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      If clarity is the domain of leadership, and engendering hopefulness the domain of great managers, commitment is the responsibility of the whole team. Literally, if clarity and hopefulness are the call, commitment is the response. We are all going over the edge together, and my commitment as a team member is that I will take that first step with everyone else, and every required step after it, until we reach our goal.

      Now we have engagement.

      So you want complete engagement? Give us complete clarity. Don’t complain that you can’t get anyone involved/engaged/committed in your project, your vision, if you can’t help us see it. Do your job as a leader, or we will wander off somewhere else. Require that our managers provide the kind of intelligent feedback and empowerment that strengthens our confidence in ourselves and in the organization we work for, or we will falter and lose our commitment.

      Do you want your employees to tap into that mysterious ‘discretionary effort’ that means the wheels stay on the bus even when you are out of the building? Then make sure that you have done your part to be clear, and to connect our strengths with the task at hand. If you’ve really done your part, then you’ll get passionate engagement and everyone will take that first step towards extraordinary growth and change together, and then keep on walking!

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      Last Updated on December 10, 2019

      7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

      7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

      Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

      But do you know what motivates your people?

      It’s simple:

      • Is their work stimulating?
      • Does it challenge them?
      • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
      • Do you encourage creativity?
      • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
      • Do you praise them?
      • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
      • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
      • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

      Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

      In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

      Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

      These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

      1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

      You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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      But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

      If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

      Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

      2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

      There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

      In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

      So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

      Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

      • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
      • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
      • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
      • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

      So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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      3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

      Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

      When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

      Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

      So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

      4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

      Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

      Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

      Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

      Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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      5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

      Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

      Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

      A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

      Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

      If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

      6. Monitor Their Workload

      Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

      What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

      • Red means they’re fully loaded.
      • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
      • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

      I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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      If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

      And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

      7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

      Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

      So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

      The Bottom Line

      A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

      Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

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      Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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