6 Ways Leaders Can Excel at Engaging Employees

Much has been written on how organizations can engage their employees more successfully and create a competitive advantage. The advice offered tends to be of a program nature: company-wide initiatives promulgated from above that all functions “down below” are expected to participate in.

My thirty-three plus years of leadership experience suggests a different way of looking at how to “hook” every employee in the goals and strategy of the organization. People relate more to other people, not “corporate programs” offered by human resources or business planning.

This requires that every team leader take personal responsibility to see that the employees who report to them are pumped up and engaged. I didn’t wait for an “employee engagement program” to help. I chose to lead in a very specific way that led to turned-on employees and constantly improving performance.

Here are the simple things that worked and still work for me.

  1. Ensure every employee clearly understands the strategic game plan of the organization. They can’t contribute if they are hazy about what results are expected.
  1. Define the specific role of every person in delivering the strategy. This is where detail matters. Everyone needs to know EXACTLY what to do day-in and day-out to execute on the chosen company direction.
  1. Equip them with the tools to perform their responsibilities: training, systems and processes. A mundane point, perhaps (“Everyone knows this is important!”) but one that is often forgotten. It’s a basic hygiene factor for engagement. They won’t engage if they don’t have the fundamentals to do their job.
  1. Constantly – WEEKLY – let them know how they’re doing. Real honest feedback (and help to allow them to improve) is essential.
  1. Be in their workplace WITH them. If they know you are there to help them succeed they will engage with you on an emotional level which is what you need to move the yardsticks forward. People who intellectually understand and agree with what is required are motivated to DO something only if the are “all in” emotionally.
  1. Fight for them internally. Protect them from the internal politics and b.s. that gets in the way of them doing their job. If they know you have their back they will go the extra distance to perform.

Enhancing employee engagement requires individuals to emotionally connect with the goals of the organization and execute accordingly to achieve them. Look to leaders, not corporate programs to create the energy necessary to make it happen.


Photo Credit: rkeithcooke3428 Flickr via Compfight cc