Em­ployee en­gage­ment mat­ters

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - Joseph Sher­ren, CSP, HoF, CSPGlobal, is CEO of Gate­way Lead­er­ship and Canada’s Man­age­ment Ef­fec­tive­ness Ex­pert. For in­for­ma­tion on pro­grams and speak­ers, con­tact Keith McLean at keith@gate­waylead­er­ship.com

I was hav­ing break­fast at the Red Rooster in Cra­paud this week with my cousin Char­lie Sher­ren, and we were dis­cussing how peo­ple con­ducted busi­ness in our fathers’ time. His fa­ther, my Un­cle Ned, was a man of solid val­ues who would give more than take, and truly cared about his cus­tomers and work­ers.

Charles was adamant to con­tinue this tra­di­tion and even to­day; the ser­vices he pro­vides to oth­ers is done the way he would want it done unto him. This may seem like com­mon sense, but he (and many oth­ers) feel the con­cept of per­sonal ac­count­abil­ity has been lost and work­ers just don’t care. He might be right. There is now sig­nif­i­cant re­search that em­ployee en­gage­ment is at an all time low. In fact, a re­cent Gallup sur­vey found that em­ployee en­gage­ment lev­els in Amer­ica fell to an av­er­age of 31.7 per cent in March, down from 32.9 per cent in Fe­bru­ary.

Though the av­er­age for the first quar­ter of 2015 is higher than it was last year at this time (32.1 ver­sus 31.7 per cent), it’s still de­clin­ing over­all. So what is that do­ing to over­all morale, and pro­duc­tiv­ity in our or­ga­ni­za­tions?

One in­ter­est­ing part of the sur­vey said that women are more en­gaged than men in the work­place (34.7 ver­sus 29.2 per cent). Typ­i­cally, women are more en­gaged than men by a fac­tor of five to six per­cent­age points.

In fact, an ar­ti­cle in the New York Daily News re­ports that nearly 70 per cent of U.S. em­ploy­ees are mis­er­able at work and over 30 per cent are ac­tively dis­en­gaged.

Gallup’s re­search also sug­gests there is a strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween em­ployee en­gage­ment, and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity, and over­all prof­itabil­ity.

How did we get here and what can we do about it?

I be­lieve a big part is that many peo­ple who rose quickly to man­age­ment, or be­came busi­ness own­ers, did not learn the skill of truly del­e­gat­ing and in­volv­ing.

Yes, they as­signed tasks, but they did not truly em­power staff and teach them to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity.

This de­nied work­ers de­vel­op­ment and the skill build­ing needed to take on ac­count­abil­ity with­out fear. I have heard it over and over from man­agers who say: “It’s just quicker to do it my­self ”, or “Em­ploy­ees to­day will just mess things up”.

This is the con­se­quence of a “sink-or–swim” or “bap­tismby-fire”cul­ture. Un­der those cir­cum­stances em­ploy­ees will cer­tainly lay low and play CYA when they see re­spon­si­bil­i­ties com­ing down the pipe.

The good news is it’s not too late. Here are just a few ideas you can im­ple­ment that will en­sure peo­ple will step up, be en­gaged and even en­thu­si­as­tic about their work:

1. De­velop a cul­ture where man­agers share re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Em­power your em­ploy­ees to make de­ci­sions, take on ac­count­abil­ity and do their work the way they think is best. If the end re­sult works, even if it’s not your way – let it go!

2. In­volve em­ploy­ees in man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

I re­mem­ber as a cor­po­rate man­ager I had em­ploy­ees that were ready for pro­mo­tion, but there were no open­ings. Of course they be­came dis­con­tent. So I would say, “How would you like to be even bet­ter pre­pared for an open­ing when it does hap­pen.” Then, one at a time, I would del­e­gate them some­thing I was re­spon­si­ble for and let them run with it. 3. Be trans­par­ent Be open about how the com­pany makes money and what ac­tiv­i­ties are most prof­itable. Re­view any long-term strate­gies you may have and how they fit in the big pic­ture.

4. Set up on-go­ing coach­ing ses­sions

For­get the an­nual per­for­mance re­view rit­ual. Make course cor­rec­tions and pro­vide feed­back on any ac­com­plish­ments on a monthly or at least quar­terly ba­sis.

My ques­tion for man­agers this week: “Are you men­tor­ing your em­ploy­ees to take on greater re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in a con­fi­dent, con­struc­tive man­ner?

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