Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where Does Engagement Come From?

Employee engagement can be a funny thing. Like motivation, you can’t cause someone else to get engaged in their job, but you can create an atmosphere that encourages and fosters engagement. Without buy-in from above, engagement rarely happens. But true employee engagement in a “make it or break it” form comes from the employee themselves and from their immediate managers.

Numerous studies on employee engagement reveal what the employees want and expect from both their managers and from the job itself. And, while employees have grown more and more cynical about their jobs over the last 20 years, they really don’t want to be that way. Like a person who has had their heart broken in love too many times, they’ve become cautious and tainted, reserving judgment about their feelings until they are sure they won’t be hurt again. Convince them that your desire for engagement is real and lasting and they will buy in. But first, you have to know what they want and be willing to demonstrate that you believe in it also.

What do employees want from their managers?
  1. A relationship that goes beyond meeting the goals and objectives. Show the employees that you care about them.
  2. Knowledge about the organization and where it’s headed. Let the employees know how their work supports the big picture.
  3. Human skills. Most studies show that human and relationship skills are more important than technical skills.
  4. Assistance in developing their career plans and help in meeting those objectives.

Managers who take this approach with their employees are creating an environment that is conducive to employee engagement. When employees recognize this they become more open to the idea of getting engaged in their work. But there are additional factors that employees want from their job as well.

What do employees want from their jobs?
  1. The ability to utilize their own talents and skills on the job. And don’t forget, just because someone does something well does not mean they enjoy it.
  2. The opportunity to be involved and give input. Nothing is as frustrating to your employees as having their ideas not heard, or heard but not truly appreciated.
  3. The opportunity to learn and grow, both personally and professionally.
  4. Clear expectations about what they are supposed to do and when they are supposed to do it. This goes beyond the concept of departmental goals and objectives and relates to both day to day clarity and knowing how the work fits the long term goals of the organization.

As you can see, these lists are neither long nor complicated. Creating an engaging environment is not difficult but really requires some rather basic people skills that should be part of any new manager’s repertoire. Unfortunately, since most new managers receive little or no training, these basic skills are often lacking.

Ask yourself if your employees are engaged or have they all checked out? If they’ve checked out, find out why. Which of these basic elements is missing from your organization? Creating an engaged organization does not require massive amounts of time and/or money. All you really have to do is show your employees that you care.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Well said. In particular I like the observation that employees have become like lovers that have had their hear broken too many times with "initiatives" designed to engage.

    Like you say the lists are not complex. Yet, deploying them I suspect is not simple. People by their nature can be messy As they become more trusting and the culture of engagement improves they become less messy and more coherent I suspect.

    Thanks for the insights