Employee Engagement

Get your people motivated!

DSC00015I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this course and I recommend it to everyone. It has only been weeks since I did this course and the impact it has had on me is life changing, I have never been so happy with my relationship, health & fitness, and career.

Julie Sims, Manager, Canberra

Employees who are engaged feel a positive emotional and intellectual connection to the business in which they work. They volunteer extra effort because they want to – they are focused on what they can give and where they can make a difference. In contrast, disengaged employees focus on what they can get – their motivators are money, reduced effort, and more perks.This means that the vast majority of businesses have the potential to get enormous increases in productivity and profitability if they can engage their employees.

What are the key triggers for engagement? In the end, it’s relatively simple. The decision to be engaged is emotional and intellectual, driven by 3 key human needs:

  • the need for significance (I matter, I have value)
  • the need to contribute (I am making a difference)
  • the need to grow (I’m getting better)

It’s also a decision based on relationships and each employee’s conclusion about whether their leaders are trustworthy.

 So how does our Employee Engagement Program work? In short, it’s a 5 step process which involves working with every level of your organisation.

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Phase 1: What’s in it for the Boss?

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.” –Jack Welch, CEO, GE

The evidence is clear – money is ultimately a poor motivator, for the boss (whether an owner or leader) and employees alike. Real motivation, resilience and sustained performance comes from somewhere else, and it starts with the boss developing a vision for the business that is aligned to his or her personal values and sense of purpose. This enables any boss to access deep internal drives and resources as he or she become personally aligned with what the business stands for and how it performs.

Phase 2: Where does the Leadership Group fit in?

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”–Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

A vision is pointless without the buy-in of the Leadership Group or the larger team (depending on the size of the business). This can’t be done by simply delivering the vision and expecting others to come on board. Engagement, enthusiasm, and passion are volunteered and come from buying in to a bigger picture. They can’t be successfully demanded or expected. As the decision to buy-in is a personal one, each member of the leadership group needs to decide that it’s worthwhile to become part of the vision. Not everyone will and that’s OK.

It’s here that the boss begins to provide a choice – “You either choose yourself into the vision, or choose yourself out of the business.”

Phase 3: Let everyone know

“Communication is the real work of leadership.”–Prof. Nitin Nohria, Dean, Harvard Business School

Once the vision and values for the business have been agreed upon by the leadership team they need to be shared with the rest of the business. How that is done depends on the size of the organisation, but the vision and values need to be cascaded down to all levels.

This is best done by the leadership group taking their teams through a similar process with an emphasis on helping individuals identify “what’s in it for them”, align with the vision and understand their contribution to its achievement. Similarly the values need to be made real and personal for all members through a facilitated discussion that elicits the benefits of buying into the values, what they will mean, and how they will be enforced. Again, it’s crucial for team members to explicitly give each other the permission to hold each other to account.

Phase 4: Build a high performance environment

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Implementation of a new culture is where most organisations face their biggest challenge. It is one thing to set a vision and agree on a nice–sounding set of values, but it is quite another to live a common purpose and a set of aspirational values on a daily basis. Old habits often linger.

To bring about real change the leadership group must have a strong commitment to:

  • The vision
  • Living the values
  • Holding everyone in the organisation (including themselves) to those vision and values
  • Rewarding and celebrating movement toward the vision and an individual’s living of values
  • Aligning systems and processes with the vision
  • Setting clear and achievable goals
  • Measuring key indicators that drive success
  • Establishing a team generated process of accountability.

The result will be a high performance environment that allows employees to perform at their best.

Phase 5: Deep Coaching

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”  –Bob Nardelli, former CEO, Home Depot

As a new culture develops, some individuals may find it difficult to adapt behaviours or style to fit into the new culture. This will be a significant problem if they are either in a leadership position or are allowed to continue their behaviour in the face of new agreed values and team dynamics. In situations where the business wants to keep the employee rather then performance manage them, a personalised coaching program may be warranted.

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Leading employees to engagement is never about you, it’s about them.

It’s about releasing, letting go of control, and empowering them to be better while being accountable for maintaining an environment that promotes excellence. If you are into activities such as power over others, blame or buck passing, taking credit for the work of others, control, demanding perfectionism, or competing with your employees, you will find it hard to build a loyal and engaged team.

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