Gallup defines “engaged” employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner.Gallup 2014, State of the American Workplace
Have you ever noticed that many of your most memorable positions remain etched in your mind because of what the organization and its managers failed to do?
This is a sorry state of affairs.
A while back, I re-read Gallup’s 2014, State of the American Workplace report. It was full of very insightful information. The report had some clear messages about what it takes to engage employees. I wanted to share with you the 30,000 foot view of what is in that report with particular focus on key themes.
I have framed it based upon the feedback I have received from my readers about what their organizations do or fail to do.
1. Fail to communicate a vision and road map.
Anything that is important is worth creating a vision around and a detailed road-map to achieve it. Many organizations talk a good talk behind closed doors or in private circles about their desire to engage every employee, but they are not very effective in communicating a compelling vision organizationally. Then, they fail at creating clarity for how the vision will come to life.
A part of this is making sure that everyone knows how they play a part in the engagement vision. Gallup points out that organizations with engaged employees usually communicate employee engagement best practices many times throughout the year and have it completely integrated into the fabric of the culture. These same organizations also tie manager scorecards to engagement metrics to ensure that leaders remain accountable for results.
2. Hire the wrong managers.
Whom companies name as manager is one of the most important decisions they make given that managers play a critical role in driving engagement in any organization. Whether hiring from the outside or promoting from within, organizations that scientifically select managers for the unique talents it takes to effectively manage people greatly increase the odds of employee engagement.- Gallup 2014, State of the American Workplace
It has become painfully clear to me that many managers need extensive development in the area of how to engage their team members. Unfortunately, many either do not have the time or do not want to make the time to improve in this area.
As I have written about before, managers whom fail to listen to their team, fail to help their team members reach professional goals, show very little in the way of caring for each member of their team and often work against the team are the primary reasons why employees quit. This is why it is critical that organization’s get the manager hiring and selection process down to a science.
In Gallup’s 2014 report, they very clearly point out that becoming a manager is not for everyone and should not be treated as a stepping stone or a part of the career path for everyone.
Personally, I have worked for the good, great and not-so-great managers. I can say without a doubt that the great managers really focused a lot of their time on engaging and developing their teams,because they knew that it was key to employee happiness. The relationship and connection between manager and employee cannot be understated when it comes engagement.
3. Focus on weaknesses without building upon strengths.
When employees feel that their organization cares and encourages them to make the most of their strengths, they are more likely to respond with increased discretionary effort, a higher work ethic, and more enthusiasm and commitment. Gallup 2014-State of the American Workplace
In Gallup’s March 9, 2015 update on engagement, it reiterated that only a third of U.S. employees are engaged at work, half (50.3%) are “not engaged” and 16.8% are “actively disengaged.” One of the drivers here is that many organizations fail to focus on uncovering and then leveraging each employees’ unique strengths.
Teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity. Gallup 2014-State of the American Workplace
Think about it.
If you could spend the majority of your time at work performing tasks that rest where you are strongest, wouldn’t you be happier?
Organizations that have discovered how to extract the natural talents and strengths of their employees are more productive, more profitable and more adored.
4. Do not have a people development culture.
Another key driver for employee engagement are organizations that focus on learning and development. I know, for me, this idea of development is personal and professional. I strive to grow the teams I manage, personally and professionally. It’s important to want the best for them inside and outside of work. This usually entails frequent conversations about short-term and long-term goals. As a manager, I need to find out what makes my team members excited, where they see themselves and how I, as a manager in the organization for which I work, can actually facilitate their goal attainment.
Organizations that have low employee engagement lack the structure to develop their most valuable asset: their people.
Then, there are those organizations like Zappos, Google, and LinkedIn, to name a few, that have discovered the hidden gems in their own workforce when they continue to train and develop their employees to become their very best. By doing so, they demonstrate that they care about each employee. They do this not just for what that development can do for their organizations, but also for what that development means to the employees personally.
By investing in their workforce, they create an army of champions who will help the organization grow faster, recruit more of the best talent and stay around for the long haul.
This sounds like the perfect arrangement.
In the end, organizations that create a clear vision and road-map for their engagement efforts, hire the right managers, leverage each employee’s strengths to organizational needs and those that focus on developing the skills and strengths of their workforce turn an impossible mission into a greater than possible success!
I know which side of the line I want to be on. How about you?
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