Engagement is when your people feel involved and inspired, when they have both an insight into the organisation and a sense of being included. That special ‘insider feeling’ creates, motivates and sustains great performance. It not only increases retention but encourages your people to be advocates and recommend friends to work for the organisation.
When people have that ‘insider feeling’ they feel that they make a difference, that their contribution counts. But what does it feel like to be led by you? Do you really know your people? For example, do you know what motivates every member of your team? Do you know the name of their partner, the names of their children? What their passion is outside of work?
Employee engagement requires effective leadership. There are thousands of leadership books, but three common themes emerge: leadership is about communication, preparing organisations for change and creating a sense of direction.
Communication really matters. But communication is not simply the transfer of information. A recent study showed we spend two hours per day receiving, reading and responding to email. Some organisations are so concerned email has stopped people talking that they have introduced email-free Fridays, when it is not permitted to send an internal email. While email is an efficient tool for transferring pieces of information, it is a poor communication tool. Communication is about involving, enthusing, and inspiring others, and good communication is two-way. If you are to thank, to praise, to give a word of encouragement, it needs to be done face-to-face.
Change is critical to business success. It delivers innovation, continuous improvement and better customer service. But, whether you like it or not, people fundamentally hate change. Instead, they crave stability and continuity. Communication is critical at times of change. It’s important to address a number of questions in people’s minds: What is going to happen? When? Why? People need to understand if not agree. Too often, there is an information vacuum that will get filled with gossip and rumour.
Communication is not only the glue that holds the organisation together, it also creates the stickiness that holds people to the organisation.
- Jeff Grout is an independent consultant