In a previous blog we looked at some of the numbers behind why engaging your employees is so important – the hard facts about why we should care about the ‘fluffy stuff’. This blog looks at some simple steps we can all take that will increase engagement of people both within and outside our business.
- Involve your people – let them have an input into the solution. It was something Terry Leahy talks about when he was CEO of Tesco – in any difficult situation he would ask his people, they invariably had a number of ideas as to how a given situation could be improved. The added benefit is that people buy into a world that they help to create.
- ‘Walking the walk’. The ethos of an organisation comes directly from the leaders’ behaviour. Look at any organisation where engagement is high and you will see the leaders living the desired traits. The principle of ‘Don’t do what I do, do what I say’ never has and never will work long term.
How to Increase Engagement
So what simple steps can we take to increase engagement? A lot of it is really straightforward; it’s just not always easy to put into practice consistently.
- Make people feel important – something that we all have an absolute human requirement for. For example pay attention when people talk to you, let them do most of the talking, keep the conversation about them and don’t keep bringing it back to you and always be genuine. It also helps to use peoples’ names, again it is about making them feel special and showing that you are genuinely interested and paying attention.
- Don’t persist with an atmosphere of criticism and negativity – a positive mental attitude goes a very long way. Just think back to a time when you entered a room and someone greeted you with a big smile as opposed to a frown or being ignored.
- Solve root causes, don’t perpetuate a blame culture. Encourage all to be open and honest and welcome the feedback. It can take a long time to build up enough trust to create such an atmosphere and it can be broken in seconds if we behave inappropriately, are dismissive or start apportioning blame.
- Be honest with people in your business and do not try to hide things. If you have done a survey for example, people will know what they have written and if you try to leave some difficult issues out your credibility will be shot.
- Let people shine! Let people use the skills and talents that they possess and encourage them and reward them for doing so. A recent survey* showed that this was the 2nd most important contributory factor, behind job security, for job satisfaction. Interestingly, financial remuneration was only the 5th most important factor.
These steps work just as well with people outside your business but why bother with them? If we use the same principles of engagement with, for example our customers, suppliers and referral partners, those relationships will also be significantly enhanced with equally far reaching benefits to our organisation.
These seem very obvious behaviours, what some would call good old fashioned values and common sense and that is absolutely correct. As we frequently say “It isn’t rocket science.” The hardest part is exhibiting these traits consistently, especially when the pressure is turned up.
*Society for Human Resource Management