Can You Inspire and Engage Employees?
What does a business owner or manager have to do to get people motivated these days? Are Millennials really that lazy and entitled? Are Boomers truly destined to work arduously in jobs they hate? It is a fact that strong leaders know how to maximize the strengths of their people by keeping communication channels open. That sounds like such a trite phrase, doesn’t it? You’ve heard that line lots of times before but what does it really mean? Most of us understand the concept of open communication, but the practical aspect can sometimes be a mystery. How can a business leader effectively use communication to inspire and engage their people? Suddenly, I find myself conjuring up images of a great orator and CEO leading his people by calling out from the top of a glass and metal staircase. All the little people below are filled with admiration and enthusiasm, their bright faces beaming with anticipation of the next big project. If it were only that simple.
Ideally, an engaged and inspired workforce is what you want because the truth is, they will make fewer errors, save more customers, go after opportunities, contribute creatively, and advocate ferociously for your business. They also tend to stay around much longer than their disengaged counterparts. That revolving door of employees you've got going on causes serious workflow disruption and is very costly to your business.
Employees quit their jobs for many reasons (some of which are unavoidable), but some of the most common reasons are really about the level of communication between employees and the boss. The most common, yet avoidable reasons for employee churn are:
· Feeling underutilized, bored, unchallenged
· Boss is a jerk (abusive, dismissive, passive aggressive, unavailable etc.)
· Poor performance feedback system (or non-existent)
· Feelings of isolation (no friends at work, hostile work environment)
· Don’t feel like they can make a meaningful contribution (don’t know how they fit into the larger objectives of the business)
· Inept or insufficient equipment to do good work (frustrated)
Employers need to be aware of the circumstances that cause discord between company leaders and employees in order to effectively find ways to rectify the situation. The above examples are things that can easily be mended through effective communication tactics. Read on to discover ways to mend those broken relationships in your company.
Explore Strengths: Have you ever had a job where you felt your best skills were being ignored or underutilized? It makes your work very frustrating and unfulfilling. Quite often people get hired for what is on their resume and no thought is ever given to where the candidates’ talents actually lie. Part of your hiring process should include a strengths assessment, such as StrengthsFinder. Use this with existing employees as well. Speaking to your employees about their strengths assessment results, their interests and career goals will allow you to ensure that you have the right people in right job and doing great work, too! Not doing this could cause you to lose good people to your competitors.
Build Trust: Good leaders know how to treat people with respect and earn the trust of those around them. Bosses with a bad attitude cost companies a ton of money. Every time someone quits, it costs you three to five times their salary to replace them. Yes, it does! Every time you have to train a new employee it costs you money. Plus, you will lose money through their ignorance, mistakes, oversights, slowness, lost customers who follow them, and a million other places. Great leaders take an interest in the well-being of their people, have conversations with them, include them in meetings, ask for input and allow them to have balance in their lives. Keep your promises. Be trustworthy. Focus on acting with integrity. Apply human relations principles by treating other humans with compassion, fairness and interest. No dismissing, belittling, excluding, or demanding allowed. Have you got your employees’ backs? They will only have yours if they trust you.
Acknowledge Performance: Employee performance must be monitored, if for no other reason, to provide you with the opportunity to give constructive feedback. In order to do a good job, we need to have a point of reference. Clear set expectations, key performance indicators, formal employee reviews and daily “atta boys” are vital to the success of your business and will keep your employees feeling valued and focused. Did you know that giving no feedback is as bad for performance as giving only negative feedback? It’s true. I’ve done the experiment myself millions of times while I was teaching leadership skills in my previous career. The results never wavered.
Pay Attention to the Environment: A friendly work place is a wonderful workplace. If you have ever had to work in a place where everyone undermined everyone else, then you know how horrible it can be. Imagine having to work in a place where you can’t trust anyone because you are surrounded by back stabbers and scapegoat seekers. Make sure you cultivate a secure and friendly work environment by being a model of kindness and openness. Encourage mentorships and partnerships, and be sure to allow people at work to socialize over office lunches and after hours events. Have a zero tolerance policy around workplace harassment and bullying.
Have Great Tools: Great leaders understand the value of making sure employees have all the necessary tools to do their work with excellence. Not having the tools to do good work is probably the most frustrating thing an employee could ever endure. I once had to work in a company that was too cheap to replace anything. I had a computer that needed to be rebooted several times per day, a fax machine that used thermal paper when nobody used thermal paper and a telephone on my desk that didn’t even work half the time! It was really hard to get anything done and to keep a positive attitude. Interestingly, people’s frustration with the company and the lack of value placed on their people (as demonstrated through their cheapness) served to make the entire company environment toxic. I never worked with a more hateful group of people in my life.
Usually sickness in any environment isn’t confined to a single area. What you say to your employees non-verbally is even more important than what you say verbally. If the unspoken word is “I don’t care how you feel,” then nothing you say will help the matter. Actions do speak louder than words, so make sure you:
· Walk around and talk to the people who work for you.
· Give them a reporting system so they can easily communicate system, process and equipment failures.
· Allow them to make suggestions for improvement.
· Create a safe environment where grievances can be heard without negative repercussions.
· Make a point of honouring your employees’ skills and talents my maximizing them.
· Never let a moment pass to offer a kind word and some encouragement.
· Encourage contributions to your strategic plan from across the organization.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
Few public relations & communications specialists have as diverse a background as Renée Cormier. Add published author, employee engagement specialist, sales and marketing strategist, entrepreneur and educator to her list of accomplishments. In her career Renée has held leadership roles in sales and marketing, developed and implemented national marketing strategies and was responsible for teams as large as 28 strong. She brings a wide range of experience and talent to her work.
Renée really shines in communications. She is known for developing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and generating results through flawless implementation. With such strong business acumen, passion for her work and a natural talent for business strategy, Renée is definitely considered an important resource for her clients. Is your business in transition? Do you need help with your communications or public relations efforts? Contact Renée through her website.
Follow me on Twitter @reneecormierpr.
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