$450 billion each year. That's the minimum amount of money that disengaged employees are costing U.S. companies.
Research repeatedly reflects one of the biggest ongoing challenges facing organizations is employee engagement. Though it seems obvious, it's important to recognize that engagement doesn't happen automatically and isn't a state of mind for which the employee is solely responsible.
Time and again, it's shown that managers have the most direct impact on the engagement level of their team.
Proven Strategies to Take Your Team's Engagement to The Next Level
This is true regardless of the level of experience and self-motivation of the team’s individual members. It’s not unlike an orchestra. A young, inexperienced group of amateur musicians must pay close attention to the director to keep the desired tempo and for cues regarding how loudly or softly to play.
This is also true for a group of highly motivated professional musicians. While they would be likely to play a complicated piece proficiently even without a director, it's only by zeroing in on the cues of a dynamic director that the group can realize their full potential and deliver a nuanced, virtuoso performance.
As managers, we must honestly evaluate whether or not we are winning the attention of our orchestra and giving them the proper direction that will heighten their engagement and maximize their performance. While there are many ideas about how to achieve this, here are some proven strategies based on real-world analysis and employee feedback that will help take your team’s engagement to the next level.
Your team members want to know that they're an integral part of the big plan.
Where do they fit in, and what is the long-term plan for their individual development?
Based on their input, what do they desire for their career path, and how can you help them get there. For some, that may be developing skills that will lead to management. For others, that desire may simply mean being a top billing performer. The crucial thing is to have those conversations and offer guidance. You will likely find that your team wants the tools and training to do their jobs to the best of their ability, as well as a clear pathway to growing their career.
Do you trust the members of your team? More importantly, do they trust you?
Peak performance and engagement are partly the results of your team’s trust in you. So, in short, do what you say you're going to do. Enforce your organization’s rules evenhandedly and consistently.
Your team’s trust in you is a function of your continued commitment to behaving ethically and consistently. Whenever possible, give your team full, clear, honest insight into how and why decisions are made which affect them. Their understanding of the organization’s missions and methods will enhance their acceptance and engagement far more than will rumor and idle speculation.
As you earn trust, your one-on-ones and group meetings will become more fruitful as your sellers learn that they can trust you to hear what they are saying without setting them up for a “gotcha.”
Hopefully, as professionals, we've learned to really listen to our client’s wants and needs to better serve them. It's critical that we use these same listening skills with our team.
Everyone wants to feel valued and included, and your front-line employees have valuable experience and insights that should be heard. Your team members must know that they can speak openly and honestly without fear of ridicule or reprisal (Earned Trust). As a result, you will learn actionable information about your clients, your competitors, your staff, and opportunities that you might otherwise miss.
Employee Engagement Doesn't Have To Be a Management Problem
There are many aspects to employee engagement that go beyond those mentioned here, but if you're having challenges with engagement, this is a good place to start.
As you see your team’s engagement increase, you can branch out into more strategies that will enhance everyone’s engagement and enjoyment. And your team may even be the ones who provide the ideas that become some of your best engagement strategies!