Thursday, November 13, 2014

Engaging Your Team in Three Steps

Guest post from Chris Ruisi:

Achieving collective employee engagement is a challenge for most companies, especially in today’s delicate economy. It’s crucial for business leaders to engage their workers in order to prosper.
What is an engaged employee? This team member is fully invested and enthusiastic in their work because they identify with the company’s overall vision and feel their job responsibilities contribute to the company goals. They are dedicated to their specific role, which allows them to work toward the success of the company as well as their individual success.

Creating a culture of employee engagement involves three key components, all of which are related:
·        Vision
·        Leadership
·        Tactics

Companies who report high levels of employee engagement share these common characteristics:

·   They have a specific and well communicated vision that is constantly kept it in front of and discussed with their team – it outlines action, not just words. 
·    Their employees are able to describe why the organization does what it does and who they do it for.
·    Their employees are emotionally attached to the vision, believe in what they do and are committed and loyal to the organization.

So, you need a “great” vision that your team can willingly buy into, adopt and turn it into reality. For that to happen, every member of your team must know:
·        What they do
·        How to do it consistently well
·        Who they do it for (internal and external customers)
·        Why they do it – the most important factor
·    Where they fit in within their company – so they know that what they do is important and their contribution is valued
Now, if you can correctly “educate” each member of your team on these five points here is what you will have accomplished – your team will understand how what they do will help to make the vision a reality, and in turn, they will realize that achieving the vision will fuel their motivation to make it happen.
Think about it – do you have a vision; does your team truly understand it and do they understand the “why” of what they do? Answering these initial questions will put you on the road to building an engaged team.

Leaders get paid to produce results. It is a known fact that an effective leader is only as good as the team they assemble (recruit and select), develop (properly train) and lead (set expectations, accountabilities and goals). If the leader is not effective, then it stands to reason that the team will not perform well on a consistent basis and they are most likely not “engaged.”

To create an effective culture of employee engagement, leaders must:

·        Understand reality and explain why the “status quo” needs to change
·        Create the vision and show their team the way
·        Spell out timetables and milestones to measure progress
·        Show no fear
·        Don’t offer or accept excuses
·        Acknowledge the right actions and say “thank you”
·        Set performance expectations and hold people accountable to get the job done
·        Challenge their team to help them grow and “stretch” their capabilities
·        Reward the right actions –those that move the organization closer to the vision
·        Never accept “below average” and act quickly when poor performance has been identified
·        Listen to and solicit feedback

The obvious questions for you are – How do stack up to these characteristics? Which ones should you start doing? Which ones can you be better at?  When you do adopt these practices, will they follow your “lead?”

So you have a vision and your leadership skills are up to the challenge, now what are some ways – tactics – you can use to create a healthy employee engagement culture?

Consistent Communication: Employees want to know how the organization is doing, how corporate goals are being accomplished and how what they do contributes to achieving corporate objectives.
Interaction: Employees leave organizations because of their direct supervisor. The engagement of employees is tied to the leadership practices of their direct supervisor.

Employee Development: Employees want the opportunity to develop and grow professionally. They need opportunities to grow in their job and within the organization. Managers should be constantly coaching their employees to fine tune skills and develop new ones.
Team Environment: Strong employee engagement is dependent on how well employees get along, interact with each other and participate in a team environment.

Trust: Employees need to trust each other as well as their leadership. Employees are constantly watching leadership to see how their decisions affect the strategic direction of the organization and if their behaviors reflect what they say.

Clear Expectations: Employees need to know what is expected of them. This is accomplished by giving specific goals as well as the training, tools and resources needed to perform their job.
Reward and Recognition: Employees need to feel validated and acknowledged as a valued part of the organization. Rewards and recognition should be integrated into the way employees are managed on a day-to-day basis.

Employee Satisfaction: Employees need to feel like they are part of the process and that their thoughts and ideas matter. They are on the front line and know best about how work should be performed. Actively soliciting employee feedback is a very effective way to engage employees.
So there you have it – vision; leadership and tactics – the three critical components of a healthy and productive culture of employee engagement.  It’s now up to you to pull it all together and make it happen.

Bio: Chris Ruisi helps organizations and individuals achieve dramatic business growth through enhanced leadership and team development. Ruisi is a nationally recognized executive coach, leadership expert, professional business and leadership speaker, top-ranking author and radio show host who challenges business leaders to "Step and Play Big." Drawing on his more than 35 years of experience as a senior-level corporate executive, Ruisi uses his wealth of knowledge to help business professionals develop the practical skills and solutions necessary to navigate the risks and demands of the current economic climate.

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