Firstly, what does it mean to be engaged?
The dictionary gives us a few meanings: –
“to be fully occupied”
“focusing on something or someone”
“interlocking and interacting”
So, if we take this into the context of engaging with your staff, this would mean:-
“taking the time and allowing your employees to occupy your time, and truly focusing on them. Pledging yourself to them in order to interact.”
Does that seem scary? A little, perhaps. But, giving of your time and attention to one person can mean the world to them, and in turn benefit you too, in the long run.
The stats from Daily News in America show that over 70% of Americans are utterly unhappy in their jobs and at their place of work. This number cannot be far off in good ole’ South Africa. The main reason for this is that they say that they feel disengaged. They feel like they are not really connected to their superiors, their colleagues, and their work. It could be that the youth of today, and by youth, I’m referring to the 18 to 30 somethings, need engagement, they thrive on engagement, their worlds revolve around engagement.
Now, when they find themselves spending most of their daily hours in a place where they cannot do this, then they will slowly start to disengage and become inwardly focussed. Sure, they will do their work, work will get done, but will they really be as productive as they could be? Will they deliver their best work? Will they bring their A-game to the table?
Not very likely.
Engagement is not only about personally engaging with someone, but also inspiring others to be engaging. When it comes to your staff, there are many ways in which you can encourage this.
And, it doesn’t have to always be in the form of “drinks on Friday” – “team building games” – or “bonuses”. The way in which you conduct yourself with your staff can speak volumes.
Your job, as the leader, is to inspire and encourage your team to be the best they can be, to behave at their full potential, and to get them to see the benefit of unlocking their true selves.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it can be as simple as recognising what that person is good at. In schools today, teachers are focused on what makes little Johnny work better. Is it the idea that he will get time off if he finishes his work neatly and accurately? Is it that he will get rewarded for a job well done? Is it that he loves math and to be given a string of problems to solve, rather than read endless stories, makes him far more productive?
Find out what your staff are good at. They do have a job to do, and hopefully they are in a job that brings out their best, but sometimes, there can be another angle to a part of their work that will just fuel their passion.
A few key areas that came up in recent studies from the Harvard Business Review, was that employees wanted to feel:
Creating opportunities for your employees where they can prove that they are worthy of these accolades is where your job starts as their leader. If you don’t create opportunities for your team, where they can stretch their imaginations, push their boundaries, and realise their skills, how can you ever expect them to give of their best?
The one way in which you can continuously inspire and create the behaviours you are looking for, is to engage with your staff. Connect with them through language, through joint projects, through trusting them with new accounts, and generally allowing them a bit of free reign.
This all comes down to leadership skills, and there is no doubt it takes time and effort. If you find you are not able to engage in this manner, or the efforts you have given are just not making a difference, then why not consider bringing in an expert?
There are leadership skills training specialists and EnOv8 can assist with creating custom team engagement campaigns.
“The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Bob Marley