4 Ways Managers Can Commit to Improving Employee Engagement
A Note From The Editor
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New Year’s has come and gone; people are implementing their resolutions or maybe even abandoning them. And while it's still important to set goals for 2017 at your company if you haven't already, intentions and commitments rather than outcomes should be your focus.
Management, for example, needs to address employee engagement, which, as Gallup’s January 2017 report found, continues to be a major problem for most companies: 67.5 percent of employees are disengaged at work. Help your managers set clear commitments and intentions.
They need to commit to improving employee engagement in fun, meaningful ways, and communicate their intention to treat employees as people, not just assets.
By sticking to these engagement goals instead of regularly concentrating on checking employee "outcomes," managers can focus on the process. Otherwise, it's too easy for those employees to get stuck and attach their worth to the outcome, instead of the continual efforts they put forth.
This way of thinking will halt managers in their tracks. And that's a good thing: Help managers concentrate on the process of improving engagement, so that that process is exciting, not agonizing. By doing this, you'll help ensure that employees' fear of failure dissipates, allowing them to give their best to daily efforts.
Here are some tips on helping managers improve employee engagement while staying focused on the process:
Related: The Secret to Employee Engagement
This emphasis on focusing on the process instead of the outcome translates to all employees. Of course, outcomes need to be measured and tracked, but what’s more important is how well employees are performing in the process to achieve those results.
Train management on how to use technology to track important performance metrics. For example, if a sales representative has a low conversion rate, it’s time to assess his or her strategies to determine where he or she has lost leads.
Performance metrics tell managers how employees stack up to expectations, where they are succeeding and struggling and what changes in behavior are most effective. Help management set regular schedules with each employee so ongoing assessments are available, to keep talent on track.
That begs an additional question: Exactly how can managers communicate an employee’s performance in the most engaging way?
Show, don’t tell.
When employees read a spreadsheet as their immediate supervisors talk about performance, they may not remember what the numbers say or fully understand what the takeaway is. This is where visuals come in.
Visuals have a far greater impact than numbers and spreadsheets. In fact, educators have been using visuals in their lessons to help their students understand content better and to engage them more. A Journal of Education and Practice study in November 2015 reported that using visuals aids as a teaching method stimulates thinking and improves the learning environment in a classroom.
Managers can take a similar approach. Teach them how to use high-impact visuals, like charts and graphs, to demonstrate employees' progress toward their goals and to illustrate their impact on the bigger picture. Reporting tools and software can make this process of creating visuals automatic, allowing management to pull reports and deliver visual content in an instant.
Visuals paint an in-depth picture of goal alignment and workflow structure. Employees are bound to retain more visual information than written content. The better they understand their impact on the company and their individual progress, the more engaged they are in their work.
Host 360 reviews.
Delivering performance reviews can be difficult; engaging employees in an impactful discussion about their performance is even harder. As an alternative, managers should consider 360 reviews.
These types of reviews require management to select a few of a particular employee’s peers to join in. The intent of the review is to focus on the employee’s future with the company and to offer a full perspective of his or her strengths and weaknesses.
The employee’s colleagues should have a voice in rating this person's skills and providing input on how he or she can improve and set a plan for long-term career development with the organization. Employees being reviewed will themselves be engaged, by participating in setting a plan that shows potential for growth.
Managers first need to prioritize keeping job descriptions updated. OfficeTeam’s 2014 survey found that only 50 percent of the 2,290 administrative professionals surveyed said their job descriptions accurately described the work they do. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said that their jobs had evolved significantly, making those descriptions inaccurate.
How can managers effectively communicate expectations if they don’t have a tool to measure with? Encourage leadership to use ongoing discussions as an opportunity to ask employees to describe the scope of their role and to adjust any responsibilities or duties that need to be updated.
Once managers have updated these descriptions, they can use them to set realistic goals and measure expectations for each staff member.
This exercise of engaging in dialogue and reassessing employee roles is perfect for reminding employees of the value they bring to the company and for helping them understand how much they can learn and grow.