As you look around the office and observe the behavior of your co-workers, what do you see? Apathy? Unproductive workers? Or do you see Enthusiasm? Engagement? What difference does it make whether your employees are apathetic or engaged and enthusiastic?
A lot! Their attitude makes a big difference in their productivity and interactions with each other and more importantly with customers. The team that pulls together is so much more effective than the team that just doesn’t care. And really, do you want your people coming to work just to collect a paycheck or do you want them coming to contribute to something bigger than themselves?
When people are engaged, they contribute ideas that will make a difference. They work harder and care more. They make a contribution to the company’s growth and competitiveness in the marketplace because it matters to them. Innovation becomes an integral part of the day to day operations. I don’t know about you but I know I don’t want the pressure of having to come up with all the ideas myself!
The goal is to have productive workers, but that is just not enough. Unfulfilled productive employees will eventually leave. With them goes intellectual capital, customer relationships, and who knows how much that costs. People need the satisfaction of knowing they are doing something important and making a difference. As leaders, you can have a huge impact on whether or not a worker is fulfilled by answering these five questions
1. Where are we going?
What is the vision of the organization? Do your employees or coworkers know what the company aspires to be? Ask five people to explain the vision of the company and where they see themselves in that vision. Asses their answers. Do they know the vision? Do they see their part in it? As a leader, you can make the difference by taking the time explain how the work your division is doing impacts the long-term vision. Share how they fit into the company’s strategy to build the Vision. Sharing where they are going adds context to why they are executing a particular plan or working towards specific goals.
2. What is expected of me?
Once the Vision is defined and a strategy is explained, it is up to you as the leader to communicate how the team is going to accomplish their goals to achieve the vision. Leaders can minimize fear and resistance by creating Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely (SMART) Goals. Leaders then need to focus on making uninspiring goals compelling through a two-way dialogue with the employees. Create an open exchange of ideas on how each goal can be accomplished while maintaining strategic alignment.
3. How will I know how I'm doing?
No matter what the task at hand, it is natural for people to want to know how they did. Leaders need to develop their Feedback skills. One way to do that is by using the READS feedback process.
- Reinforce positive intent
- Explore performance with fulfillment
- Assess the current situation
- Decide on an action plan
- Seek an expression of confidence
Think about how you as a leader can use genuine, authentic and timely feedback to keep employees on track to accomplish their goals. No one likes to have to wait until they finished something to find out that they did it wrong. Be a proactive leader and consistently engage with your direct reports
4. What's in it for me?
So why do you work as hard as you do? Is it for money? Do you enjoy responsibility? Do you simply enjoy the work that you do? Are you motivated to be part of the team? Everyone is different in how they prefer to be recognized and rewarded. As a leader, you have the challenge of determining the proper recognition and reward for each-person or even particular work groups. Engaging with your –direct reports through thoughtful conversation and questions is a great way to understand what form of recognition they prefer.
Clients often ask how do we keep it fair among everyone? A hybrid model of mixed recognition can be effective. Keep monetary incentives equal among everyone but - -recognize individuals in their preferred method.
5. Where can I go for help?
Support is critical for achieving your goals. What do you mean by support? Leaders need to provide resources and remove obstacles to performance. You can be supportive by simply allocating the appropriate time, gaining the necessary information to facilitate achieving goals and coordinating activities with individuals or among the whole team or work -unit. Oftentimes in large organizations it is up to the leader to provide support by facilitating cross-divisional communication and obtaining resources. Coordinating work efforts and goals across multiple channels is one of the most efficient ways to meet and exceed goals and insure that your people are in a position to succeed.
It takes time to think about your answers to these five questions for your workers. But the time you put into carefully thinking through your answers will pay big dividends. You will see more productivity and greater engagement that translates into happy customers and better business.