Managers play a key role in engaging their team but not all managers have the skills or knowledge they need to achieve this. An engaged team should be happy and motivated and look forward to coming to work for more than just a pay check. Enthusiastic employees are an asset to a company and therefore employee engagement should be towards the top of any manager’s agenda.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Employees want to feel heard and if you really listen, you will probably find that you want to hear much of what they have to say. Active listening is a key skill to develop. When an employee is looking to have a meaningful conversation, try to stop what you are doing and make eye contact. Acknowledge what they are saying and if possible repeat key phrases back to them so that they feel reassured that you have understood them. Avoid interrupting if possible until they have finished. Mastering this skill is a great and simple way of connecting with people!
2. Get to know the personalities on your team
Aim to see the people in your team as individuals with independent personalities and distinct talents. Spending time observing and listening will allow you to identify how each member contributes to the team. This enables you to allocate projects appropriately, allowing employees to play to their strengths and ultimately feel more empowered within the team. Usefully employed, happy and motivated people may even result in an increase in the team’s productivity.
3. Let the team do the talking
Solicit key feedback by asking questions that can help to create a full and useful picture of what is happening in your team and allow you to make appropriate adjustments. Asking meaningful questions also lets the team see that you care about their thoughts and wellbeing. Asking questions such as ‘what gives you job satisfaction?’ and ‘what makes the team successful?’ can be particularly enlightening. Asking questions during conflict resolution can be really helpful in avoiding an escalation of the conflict. Ask good questions of a number of people to establish different perspectives.
4. Give appropriate recognition
In addition to positive and constructive feedback, it’s sometimes appropriate to go the extra mile for an outstanding contribution to the team and offer some individual recognition. A manager who is engaging well with employees will have a good sense of the type of recognition appropriate for the individual. A shy and retiring employee may appreciate a discreet email, whilst someone else would rather a face to face ‘thank you’. Others may seek full public recognition of their work so an office or meeting announcement may make them feel good about themselves.
By improving employee engagement, you are seeking to foster a happier, more empowered and motivated team with a view to ultimately improving outputs. As part of the process you may also be pleasantly surprised to discover hidden talents within the workforce and by giving employees a voice, the possibility of innovating and developing existing systems.
Tell us some other ways you’ve engage your team!