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How to Efficiently Ensure Employee Engagement

Your time is precious, but your employees need it to align their efforts with your expectations. Give it to them, the smart way.

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It’s a known fact that Millennials need attention. So do all other employees, of course, but for younger generations the need for recognition and the chance to be involved in their manager’s thought process is essential. It’s easy to give a person feedback and have one-on-one meetings in a small team. However, in a team of 50 or 100, it’s impossible to give everyone the face time they need. So what am I, as a manager, to do? Accept that I’m a lousy boss who has unsatisfied team members? Or should I go out of my way to find solutions for this problem?

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Related: To Motivate Your Employees, Give Honest Feedback

With younger generations entering the workforce, this problem has become even more critical. The more Millennials you have in your teams, the more they need personal feedback and regular input. They are already making up most of the workforce, so it’s something that we must deal with right now.

The online solution.

I moved my own one-on-one meetings online. While I still try to talk with people whenever possible, giving written chat-like feedback over Skype or on any performance management app helps to ensure that my team members and I get the benefits of a meeting with minimal use of my valuable time.

The system I use consists of four steps I take every Friday:

  1. Go through my employees status reports;
  2. Write all of them a few paragraphs of personal feedback;
  3. Ask them to let me know what sort of problems they have and if needed schedule a face-to-face meeting for next week.
  4. Send a general feedback email to my entire team.

It’s important that the personal feedback is a specific as possible and gives the employee genuine help. It can’t be something you just do automatically. (Employees will know if your heart is not in it.) Instead of a generic comment like “great work on project X” you should try to analyze their work in detail and bring out both the good and the bad. Most employees are motivated by knowing their manager cares and take constructive feedback very seriously.

The feedback employees crave.

People like to know they’re involved; it makes them work harder. That’s why I make sure to use the limited time to let employees can give feedback on their long term goals. Not only are employees who are involved in goal-setting four times more likely to be engaged than other employees, but also ones that get regular feedback are also 3.6 times more motivated to do outstanding work.

Related: 4 Ways Managers Can Commit to Improving Employee Engagement

Every time I find myself thinking about postponing this feedback, I remind myself of what Bill Gates said, “Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people.”

Why have 1-on-1 meetings at all?

The answer comes down to keeping your employees engaged and satisfied. After all, considering how hard it is to find qualified employees, it's only logical to ensure they don’t leave you once you get them. As Justin Rosentstein from Asana has said: “You spend so much time finding great people, it’s worth it to help them grow to be the best they can be.”

Being an attentive manager is key to running a productive team with a minimal turnover rate. According to statistics, 50 percent of employees who have left a company have done so because of their manager and 43 percent of highly engaged employees get feedback at least once a week.

What can go wrong?

In both online and face-to-face meeting, there are dangers to avoid. Most important of these is not turning that meeting into a one-sided monologue about an employee’s daily tasks. The point of weekly feedback is to have an conversation and exchange of ideas that help both of you improve. If you spend the meeting telling the employee what he does wrong or checking whether tasks are done, in detail, then you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Related: 5 Ways You're Wasting Time Without Even Realizing It

I love going home on a Friday night knowing that my employees know what I want and are engaged in their work. This helps me sleep at night and be a better manager to everyone who works for me.

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