In Verne Harnish’s recent Fortune Magazine article on Employee Engagement, he points out that companies that have engaged employees achieve far better financial results than the majority of companies that have mediocre or poor employee engagement. In my experience, CEO’s and small business executive teams understand the need for employee engagement, but they don’t know how to achieve it. This article will give you 5 key areas to focus on to improve employee engagement in your company.
- Get excited about your company.
If you want your employees to engage, you need to engage first. If you aren’t excited about what you and your company are doing, don’t expect your employees to be excited. The first step to getting re-engaged is to remember why you started or joined the company originally, and to find the feelings of excitement and enthusiasm that you once felt. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, you must have felt strongly about the company and the possibilities it could achieve. What was it that you believed in? What got you out of bed with excitement each morning? Rekindle the feelings. Clarify why this company is worth getting excited.
- Clearly define your purpose.
Too many companies spend too little time thinking about what they are really trying to accomplish, and why they are trying to accomplish it. Executive teams allocate a day a year to strategic planning, and create “vision” and “mission” statements that sound too corporate and don’t have any meaning to the staff. Your purpose statement should convey emotion, passion, enthusiasm and it should connect in the hearts and minds of your team. When you have found that feeling of enthusiasm again, it’s helpful to formulate it into a statement of purpose that you can use as a rallying cry in the office. For details on building a purpose statement, refer to the article by Jim Collins and Gary Poras called “Building Your Company Vision” or visit Jim Collins web site. Also, the Gazelles organization has great tools to help clarify your company purpose.
- Share your purpose (regularly).
Once you have crafted a statement of purpose, you need to begin using it. You need to believe in it, and as a leader, you need to begin getting your team to believe in it. The only way to accomplish this is to begin. Have patience. This process of building employee engagement does not happen overnight. It can take time, but the culture (and your financial results) can and will improve. Use it at company meetings. Use it in employee reviews. Use it whenever you can. Repeat yourself relentlessly, and listen to the responses from the team.
- Ask for help from your team.
As you use the purpose statement with your team, you’ll get a range of responses from complete engagement to blank stares. Talk to employees about what gets them excited, and be willing to engage them in the process of refining what your company does and who it serves. If you are excited and they are not, you’ll need to adjust. In addition to talking about your company purpose, talk with your staff about all aspects of working for the company. Listen to their ideas and be open to their thoughts. As Verne’s article points out, when you ask a team of employees for help, you’ll often find that they respond with solutions that are far better than you could have developed alone.
- Implement the team’s suggestions.
The final key to building an engaged team is to implement their ideas. There is nothing more demotivating than investing energy in developing a solution to a problem, only to have the boss discard the idea and implement something else. In order to build real engagement, you need to develop trust and respect between management and the staff. When you work with a team of employees around an issue, and you implement their ideas to make the company better, it makes them far more likely to stay engaged and to think about ways to better the company. Real engagement leads to a situation where your team is identifying and solving problems on their own, while keeping the leader (you) in the loop on a need-to-know basis.
To partner with Business Improvement LLC to help build an engaged team, visit Business Improvement or call 1.215.830.1222 to speak directly with Doug Diamond.