Rather than join a band of managers saying, “We’re not worthy!” of ensuring employee engagement in your organization, let’s take a look at a list of ten common ways to destroy any engagement that your previous hard work may have earned. This is where you say, “No way!” and I say, “Way!”
- Lack of engaging leadership and management
Ghandi’s famous paraphrased quote might inspire you here, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In other words, lead by example. If you desire an engaged workforce, you yourself must also be engaged. What does an engaged leader look like? Stay tuned until next week.
This killer needs very little explanation. Micromanagement involves a lack of trust and confidence, not in your employees, but in yourself. If you cannot assign work and let. it. go. then you should look within yourself to see why that is. If you have developed and equipped your employees, why should you need to step in, other than to provide support? Are you mental?
- Constantly changing teams and structures within the organization
At SGR, we believe that change is a norm, and it is something we embrace. As the 16%, we feel comfortable with change. However, in a typical organization, constant change can signify a lack of stability and a lack of clear mission or vision. However, if your change is purposeful or strategic, and you communicate that to your employees (like we do at SGR), then engagement may not suffer.
- Lack of clear mission, vision and values
Do you know your organization’s mission, vision, and values? Do your employees? Is it understandable? Are they realistic or livable? If your answer to any of these is no, you’re likely well on your way to creating an environment where engagement cannot thrive.
- Lack of clear job roles
Your employees need to know what is expected of them. Furthermore, creating clear boundaries and roles allows for your employees to operate freely within a framework. Want more creativity in your employees? You don’t need titles – but you do need for each employee to have an understanding of what they are expected to accomplish, individually. And then given the freedom to pursue – and exceed it.
- After feedback is requested or given, no follow-up is provided
If you have ever issued an employee or citizen survey and not followed up on it, I’m talking to you. If you have ever called a public forum or employee meeting to provide information only from the top down to create “buy-in” (though you led folks to believe they’d have a chance for feedback or questions), this is for you. If you have ever coached your employees during a performance management session and not followed up to ensure that you or they have done their part, hear me now. Feedback – it’s a gift! It truly is. An excellent way to kill engagement is to not listen or to create the perception that you haven’t listened. Another excellent killer: giving the impression that you don’t care enough to follow up or provide feedback in the first place.
- Lack of transparency or trust
This employee engagement – and relationship – killer is something I see happen at all levels of organizations. In the field, when foreman and supervisors attempt to build comradery with their crews by saying, “I’m with you, but City Hall just won’t listen.” Across department lines, when gossip fills the void of unanswered questions. When employees see their managers or co-workers doing less, without repercussion. Within departments, when managers hoard information as a form of mistaken power. Or when an issue with another employee is addressed, and nothing is done to solve the problem. At the top level, after something in the press calls a leader’s ethics into question. These are just a few ways a lack of transparency or trust manifests itself. And it breeds greater and uglier distrust. Pshaw, right!
- High turnover
While high turnover may be a symptom of poor employee engagement, it could also be a further killer. The instability of a team during transition or after losing members can have ripple effects on both productivity and customer service. What I see happen all too often in local government is that we ask our high performers to pick up the slack when we’ve lost employees, rarely providing more back than a 5% temporary pay increase or “interim” title, if they’re lucky. Want a guaranteed way to drive away your top folks? Pick a couple of these killers and then ask them to do more for an indefinite time period while you attempt to hire a replacement. And then make sure to not thank them. NOT!
- Lack of investment in your employees
Not developing your employees is a sure way to prove to them that they aren’t worth your time, money, or effort. I am not saying that you have to spend large amounts of money to develop your employees – or time for that matter! You can simply provide regular communication and coaching, set up mentoring opportunities, and take advantage of on-the-job training, as well as live and online training opportunities already provided by your organization.
- Organization’s perception that employee engagement is an HR issue (rather than an organization-wide issue)
Managers, if you believe that employee engagement is just some buzz word that HR uses and that HR is the only entity that creates initiatives for it, you’re missing out on the most effective way to build employee engagement. It begins with you. Your dedication to relational leadership is where it all begins.
Avoiding these ten killers won’t guarantee you excellent employee engagement, but it should keep you ready for your Extreme Close Up! (sorry, couldn’t help myself)