This week, we’ll continue our look into what commonly drives employee engagement – also known as the contribution and satisfaction of an employee. The first three were: employee perception of job importance, clarity of job expectations and roles, and regular feedback from supervisors and managers. But wait! There’s more:
Providing opportunities for advancement within your organization is a great way to keep employees motivated to do more – and to not look outside the organization for advancement. Unfortunately, many local governments are unable to add new positions at any whim, so the opportunity for a less tenured person to advance depends on the turnover above him or her. There are a couple of other ways you can provide opportunities, though, without a “plus one.” One of the best ways to help promote an employee’s strengths and provide opportunities for enrichment and development when you’re limited by actual advancement is to assign them to a city-wide committee or to assign a project that benefits the local government as a whole, outside normal or typical job duties. You might find that your employee can serve the organization better in another capacity, position, or department, even! I’ve seen several circumstances where employees shone brightly once assigned to additional tasks beyond their regularly assigned work, and that led to a lateral “promotion” of sorts. Who do you have in your department who you KNOW can do more for the organization, possibly elsewhere?
The next driver is an obvious one: clear communication. Keeping your employees informed of what is going on and what expectations are is a critical way to keep them assured that they matter and that the work they do matters. A sure way to kill engagement? Keep your employees in the dark. But we’ll table that for now. Stay tuned next week for employee engagement killers…
Additionally, the perception of values in the organization is another common driver of engagement. At SGR, we believe that the alignment of employees’ work with the values of the organization is one of a manager’s/supervisor’s greatest tasks; in fact, aligned independence with the values and mission of your organization is the ultimate goal of coaching and managing employees’ performance. Do your employees know the core values of your city? Can they recite them? Do they – or you – understand what those look like in your city? Values are the common characteristics or guiding principles that an organization adopts to put in their budget document and hang on the wall in the City Manager’s office, right? Or, maybe they’re simply what we evaluate employees on once per year during the performance evaluation process, just to mark “meets” because we haven’t truly connected our employees – or ourselves – to them. Unfortunately, these are what we see values used for, when it could be so much more! Values are what we hired employees to be, to live—to use as a guide for their behavior. They are the common foundational principles that we must hire for, train for, evaluate for, and coach with. It should be a part of our daily conversations. This, to me, is the most important driver yet! There’s one last driver, however. And this one, you should take notice of, my friends.
The final common driver of employee engagement is the quality of relationships in the organization. Relationships matter, the most. Your employees have relationships with coworkers, management, and subordinates perhaps. Of these, the most important relationship, in terms of impact on employee engagement, is the employee’s relationship with you, his or her supervisor. Relational leadership is the foundation of all leadership – this is what you will see and hear in what we teach and how we lead, how we serve at Strategic Government Resources.
My friends, life isn’t about work. It’s about relationships. It’s about the quality of the time we spend with others. It’s about serving others and putting others’ needs above our own. I hope you understand that much of what drives employee engagement comes easily, once you put your employees’ needs above yours. It’s a radical – yet simple – way to lead. I hope you’re game for joining the cutting edge of supervisors and managers in the driver’s seat!