In electing me to office, my fellow citizens have entrusted me with the sacred duty of shaping the future of our community. Because I am committed to creating a future that is brighter and healthier and more beneficial to all citizens than when I was called to lead, I will:
- Base my decisions on the next generation more than the next election, committed to the ideal that my loyalty must be to the entire community (both now and in the future) and not merely to those who got me elected.
- Focus on mission, vision and values as the benchmark for my decisions and recognize that my responsibility is the pursuit of the greatest good for the entire community and not the satisfaction of any particular group’s agenda.
- Make decisions based on fact based evidence and not allow myself to be manipulated into bad decisions for the future based on the decibel level of critics.
- Recognize that “it takes a smart man to know where he is stupid” and have the wisdom to be smart. Accordingly, I will value those who have the courage to tell me what they really think and will listen sincerely to those who disagree with me to truly understand their perspective, recognizing that understanding other perspectives makes me a better leader.
- Embrace my responsibility to govern rather than to manage; recognizing that if I am doing staff’s job I am not doing my job, while also understanding and embracing the appropriately exercised governance role of holding staff accountable.
- Place a greater emphasis on solutions than on problems; while refusing to offer solutions before I understand the problem.
- Understand that mutual trust is the foundation for everything and that if I refuse to trust others they will be unable to trust me.
- Protect the integrity of the process more than the rightness of my position; I will fight hard for my issue but then unify behind the governing body when the decision is made because the decision was made with integrity of process, even if I disagree with the outcome.
- Understand that my deeply held beliefs, values and positions will be strengthened, not compromised by courteous, respectful and civil discourse. I will not treat someone as the enemy just because we disagree.
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect because of who I am as a leader… not because of how they treat me or what I think about them.
- Be a role model for civility. I will not treat my colleagues or staff in any way that I would be embarrassed if my five year old child treated someone the same way.
We are all familiar with the character Ebenezer Scrooge, from Charles Dickens’ famous novella, A Christmas Carol. This character is depicted, as a surly, cold-hearted businessman who hates Christmas, spends his life hoarding his wealth and forces his employees to work long, grueling hours for little pay. Scrooge is basically everyone’s worst nightmare when it comes to a manager. However, as we learn more about Scrooge through his journey with the ghosts of Christmas past, we find that he actually is a victim of circumstance. His childhood experiences, misfortune in love, and depression overcome him, not allowing him to re-frame his perspective to understand how he, as a manager, needs to communicate with his employees.
In communications, this is called understanding your frame of reference, or how individuals assess information. This can be based upon an individuals education, background, personal values, experiences, cultural differences and more, having a large influence on how information flows from or to us. The greater the overlap in frame of reference between two people, or the greater the similarities in individual’s backgrounds, the higher the likelihood that communication will be successful.
In the case of Scrooge, due to his lack of willingness to open up to his employees and allow them to understand his background, employees as well as others, simply assume that he is crotchety and cold-hearted. Therefore, any message that he sends to an intended audience will misconstrued, and may be dismissed due to the disrespect that the intended receiver may have for the sender. However, if the intended receiver of the message understands Scrooge’s background, they may be more willing to understand his situation and receive the message without the attachment of bias.
So, what can be done to fix these communication issues?
In order to fix this communication barrier, managers must do a bit of re-framing. Meaning that as leaders, we must seek to look at things in a different way and seek to understand the other person’s frame of reference. The following can assist with this process:
- Take the time to get to know your employees. Learn their personalities and interact with them regularly so that you not only build a trusting relationship with them, but you also learn how they communicate. Doing this will help to improve the likelihood of successful communication.
- Let your employees learn about you. Communication is a two-way street, unless, of course, you want to talk to yourself. Managers need to ensure that they share their best practices for communicating, including their favorite way to deliver messages and feedback. Allowing for face-to-face time to get to know each others personalities is key as well, as this is the time that you will learn how to interpret each others non-verbal cues.
- When communicating to the outside public, know your audience. Do your research. Learn about the background of your intended audience and speak to that. Although you can’t get to know everyone you are speaking to at a conference, classroom or otherwise, you can speak to their general experiences and speak to them through that perspective.
My advice to you is, don’t be a Scrooge. Teach yourself to look at things from a different perspective; learn your audience and communicate in a clear, concise manner, giving feedback as necessary to improve internal and external communication within your organization.
What are some of techniques or methods that you use to help improve communication?
Five Questions to Help You Determine the Right Path
No leadership competency is more critical than recruiting, assessing and developing current and future leaders. And while decisions regarding how to fill vacancies impact quality of operational management – they also profoundly affect employee engagement and motivation, organizational culture, and ultimately mission success. Failure to carefully choose who fills a vacancy as well as how the vacancy is filled – can profoundly impact the leader’s credibility. Any time a vacancy occurs, it is not just those who are drawn to the prospect of being promoted into the vacancy who have a stake in the process… everyone who could be affected by the ripples of someone receiving the promotion feel a stake in the outcome – especially those who will work for whoever fills the vacancy!
In an ideal world, you would always have a strong pool of internal candidates to choose from but that is not always the case… and determining whether to simply promote from within or to open up an external recruitment process can be challenging.
Do We Have an Adequate Pool to Promote from Within?
The following questions will assist the leader in evaluating whether to promote from within, or to conduct an external recruitment.
- Do you have internal prospects with the essential technical qualifications to do the job? Too many organizations confuse essential and ideal, and as a result miss out on promoting exceptional candidates.
- Do those internal prospects who meet the essential technical qualifications have a track record of success in their current position? Some people make success happen and others are along for the ride. Know the difference.
- Have those internal prospects, who meet the technical qualifications and have a track record of success, completed leadership development programs to prepare themselves for promotion? Look for employees who are investing in their own growth even if internal development programs are not offered.
- Do those internal prospects, who meet the technical qualifications, have a track record of success and have they completed preparatory leadership programs while maintaining a reputation for a positive attitude and great teamwork among their current employees, peers and supervisors? Unpleasant people who are promoted become unpleasant bosses.
- Are those internal prospects who meet all of the above standards philosophically aligned with the organization’s stated mission, vision and values and do they have a reputation for walking the talk? Nothing damages credibility more than “do as I say not as I do” leadership.
These questions form a bit of a funnel, moving from the easiest criteria for evaluation, to the more challenging (but still critical). Proceeding through each of the five questions, it is likely the number of prospects still considered viable diminishes. In an ideal situation, you can answer all five questions affirmatively for at least three prospects. If so, an internal recruitment process only should be adequate. However, still opening up the process organization wide ensures everyone has a fair opportunity to compete, and that someone who has great potential has not gone unnoticed.
Remember, these questions are not designed to determine who to hire… they merely help determine whether adequate options exist internally to avoid an external recruitment process. Hiring decisions are almost always much better if options are available to contrast and compare to.
If you cannot answer in the affirmative on all five questions for at least three internal prospects, it is likely that an external recruitment process is appropriate.
Published July 2015 in Public Sector Digest
Let’s do a little cross-discipline thinking.
One of the hot business topics, for quite some time, is this: how do we got more-engaged employees?
There are books on employee engagement, and plenty of suggestions on how to get, and keep, your employees more engaged. It’s a good and noble pursuit. The current numbers are clear (from this source – google it, and these numbers are pretty much confirmed in other surveys):
29% of workers are engaged
45% of workers are not engaged
and 26% of workers are actively disengaged. (These will really do you in!).
And, by all indications, these numbers are not budging much. They are not increasing. And that’s not good, because the higher the level of engagement, the happier, more diligent, more productive the workers.
So… about that cross-discipline thinking…
Identify the folks who would be your folks, and remind them to:
- do what they “promised” to do
- do what they would do anyway if they just were simply to do it…
- do what their peers (people who matter to them!) would applaud
- avoid doing what their peers would look down on.
In other words, engaged voters vote. And you don’t get voters to vote for your candidate by converting the other candidate’s voters, nor by convincing the undecided. No, you get your voters by finding your voters, and reminding them to put their intentions into practice.
So… what if employee engagement is similar? What if it is not about converting the not-engaged, but instead, identifying the potential employees who are likely to be engaged from day one, and hiring those people, and only those people?
I think that may be a (the!) great, big, important key.
Oh sure, the company can do things to increase and enhance employee engagement – for those so inclined to be fully engaged to begin with. But for those who show up at work to collect a check and then get out of there as quickly as possible, maybe doing the least amount of work possible, then the cause may be close to hopeless to begin with.
Oh, there may be a few stories of success – “this person was not engaged at all, and now look at how engaged he/she is” — but , for the most part… not so much.
So, maybe employee engagement starts with, and really depends on, hiring the most-likely-to be-engaged workers to begin with.
That’s what I’m thinking today, anyway…
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis
Over the past 3 months, I’ve written numerous posts on employee engagement, and like me, you may be wondering: What else is possibly left to discuss? While the answer is “a great deal,” I’d like to wrap up our look into Gallup data on employee engagement with one final viewpoint: Generations.
If you were to visit one of my classrooms where the topics were coaching or managing employee performance over the past few years, you’d have thought the Millennial generation was going to be our undoing. Now, I don’t tolerate bashing of any generation, but we tend to encourage discussion and discovery about the youngest generation in our workplace because they’re the least known and most feared (and there are so many of them!). If you’re reading this Millennials, please hear me! Your slightly older and certainly wiser counterparts don’t necessarily dislike you, but they may fear you a little. Or a lot. And if my observations are correct, some are even envious. But you’re not off the hook! Many of you Millennials have a lot to learn from those of us who have been in the workforce a lot longer than you…and we have a lot to learn from you, too!
Back to the engagement topic, though. Gallup, has defined for us what an actively engaged employee is, “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.” Not engaged employees are those who are emotionally checked out. They go through the motions, but their connection to the organization is faint. Actively disengaged employees are more than just “unhappy” at work. These employees undermine the organization and those around them.
The majority of Americans are not engaged (51%) or actively disengaged (17.5%), and thankfully, actively engaged (31.5%) figures remain steadily on the rise in recent years! But I’m interested to see which generation is the least engaged and which is most. Based on what I’ve heard in the classroom and seen play out in organizations I work closely with, it could be reasonably assumed that Millennials are the least engaged of all. They’re the least loyal, the most aloof, the most “just on their phones,” the ones who are “all about me.” According to older Gallup figures from 2013, that assumption is completely untrue.
Traditionalists have the highest engagement – but they make up less than 4% of the workforce today. The Millennials have a spread very similar to the national average, higher on the positive side! It’s the Boomers and Generation Xers who are less engaged. Not only are we less engaged, we’re the MOST actively disengaged. Boomers, you’re the ones we should be concerned about engaging. Maybe you’re the ones we need to harness – better. The key to engaging Boomers and Xers is to align their work and help them feel connected to the organization’s mission and values.
Interestingly, engagement is typically synonymous with retention. But with Millennials, this is less and less true. From a 2013 Gallup report,
“Despite their higher engagement levels, they are particularly prone to job hopping. Millennials are the most likely of all generations to say they will leave their company in the next 12 months if the job market improves. To increase retention among Millennials, [organizations] need to emphasize engagement and provide plenty of opportunities to learn and grow. While nearly half of actively disengaged Millennials want to find new jobs, only 17% of engaged ones do.”
While I think that the numbers are interesting, I honestly don’t think that there’s enough substance in them or what else I’ve found about generational engagement to substantiate a truly different approach to engaging people, regardless of which generation they were born into. In addition to the 4 Essentials of Engagement for Managers, provide folks development opportunities and help them connect to the big picture of your organization. To me, we all need these things, no matter how young or old-ahem-tenured we are.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of this Gallup report, State of the American Manager! It’s almost like, “Managing Employees For Dummies.” Well, that’s not entirely true – BUT – there are a few simple things that Gallup found that engaged employees said consistently of their managers. Gallup also tells us that 50% of adults have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. The study says this, and I couldn’t say it better, “Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril.” I hope you personally haven’t had this experience, but chances are, half of you reading this have, and chances are, 50% of the employees in your organization feel or have felt this way. I’d like to help you understand how to avoid being the reason someone leaves you – not their job.
Step 1: Address Your Employees’ Strengths (not weaknesses)
Some factoids from the report:
- Employees who receive strengths feedback have 15% lower turnover rates than employees who do not receive feedback.
- People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.
- Employees who learn to use their strengths are 7.8% more productive.
- Teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity.
Many organizations operate under the idea that a manager’s job is to identify what’s wrong with an employee and “fix them.” But Gallup has found that there is infinite potential in developing what is right with people versus fixing what is innately “wrong” with them.
High performing managers focus on strengths by leveraging and developing areas of strengths. A large amount of limited and functioning talent managers said that they emphasized a balance of strengths and weaknesses, while more limited talent managers focused on weaknesses alone. I understand that the Gallup terms may have jumbled this message, so let me be clear: managers with high talent and engaged, high performing employees focus on strengths, and strengths alone.
Step 2: Consistently Communicate
You’ve probably heard that communication must be regular and frequent from every management and leadership course you’ve ever taken. This report shows that the frequency of communication is not the key, nor the mode, but the consistency. Specifically, employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them. Those managers who maintain daily contact using a combination of communication modes (in person, phone, email, text) have the highest engaged employees, but engagement rests largely on consistency alone. Consider this: if you have a meeting scheduled every Tuesday at 2:00 with your boss, and it is cancelled 25% of the time, or even 50%, what does that say to you? Or you’re told by your boss that they’ll call you (perhaps at your request, to discuss a specific project), and that call doesn’t occur – how do those irregularities affect your assessment of how your boss values you? I’m sure that your boss – and you – can justify the times that another call or another meeting took precedence over a standing meeting. But the effect of having regular meetings far outweighs the cancellation of them. Unless you like losing your top talent.
Step 3: Don an Authentic and Approachable Attitude
I’m a huge fan of authenticity. I like being myself. I like surrounding myself with people who aren’t fake. I delight in getting to know people (I know, my extroversion is showing…) I believe that real relationships can only occur when you’re your true self. Even at work, even when you’re the boss. I’m not saying that you have to share everything with your employees, but be a human! Share bits of your life with them, and encourage them to do the same. What are their hobbies, outside of work? If they have a family, ask about them periodically! You might find that you – gasp – actually like your employees! There’s a different level of trust developed when you’re real with people, and the Gallup study shows a correlation between people who answered that they felt that they could safely talk with their boss about non-work matters and those who answered that they felt they could ask their boss anything. Wouldn’t you rather your employees come to you with the questions they have, regardless of what the topic is? Rumor control, change management, quality control, priority of work, so many questions either aren’t asked or are asked of other people, but they could be asked of you. Be real with your people. You all deserve it.
Step 4: Proactively Provide Performance Coaching
For the most part, we have managing employee performance all wrong. There are a few organizations across the country, a handful of cities in Texas, starting to get things right. But even in well-designed performance management systems, individual managers can still mess things up. Employees whose managers help them set work priorities and goals are more actively engaged (though only 12% report their managers do), and employees whose managers don’t set these are most likely actively disengaged. The basics of performance coaching include clarity of expectations, understanding the employee’s role and how that fits into and aligns with the team and the larger organization, and frequent updates about priorities and progress (not just when HR requires a tool to be completed). So, regardless of what your organization mandated performance management system is, give your employees more. Have consistent, authentic coaching conversations about your employee’s strengths. It’s really that simple.
As we began looking at last week, according to Gallup’s State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report, there are 5 characteristics of a great manager:
Great managers possess a rare combination of five talents. They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company.” Gallup’s definition of a manager is “someone who is responsible for leading a team toward common objectives.
Statistically – and logically – engaged managers have more engaged employees. If you’ll recall from a previous blog on employee engagement, ultimately, female Baby Boomer managers with high school diplomas who live in Montana, in their first six months of work have the highest engagement in America! Furthermore, female employees working for female managers have the highest overall engagement (35%), while male employees who work for male managers have the lowest engagement (25%). Again, women are more engaged at work, and women are more engaged when they work for women!
Now, this is not a post about feminism or leaning in or girl power, but we do have to ask ourselves: if we desire employee engagement, which we all do, for many reasons, and it is proven that women managers cause greater engagement, why is there only 13% of women in top leadership roles in local government, the same percentage for 30 years!? Yes, you heard that correctly. The same percentage – 13 percent – of females in top local government leadership roles has not changed in 30 years.
We have an opportunity here. I’m not suggesting “reverse discrimination” by saying we should select more females than males just to change this number. According to the report that claims the 13 percent issue, there are larger pools of female talent in mid-level management positions to develop and select from (yet still far fewer than males). So I implore you to take a look at your applicant pool better the next time you’re hiring or promoting a manager. Are we passing by a great opportunity to blow the roof off our organizations’ engagement by passing by females for leadership roles? If so, why? Is there a cultural bias toward having males as managers? Perhaps. Is there some other reason that we don’t see more women step up and not even get considered for the top leadership roles? Why are women less prevalent in leadership if they are statistically more effective?
The issue was recently brought to light by an article in ICMA’s PM Magazine and is being explored in an ongoing series of blogs by the Emerging Local Government Leaders network in their #13percent initiative, which looks at how we can actually cause change in the unfortunate low percentages. Remember, women managers have greater engagement, so having fewer of them won’t fix the engagement problem.
I’ve had the benefit of working for four incredible female managers so far in my local government career. I’ve worked for more managers, but these four women were all exactly what I needed them to be so that I could grow, learn, and thrive in my position and career. These four did not hold the top positions in our organizations, but they could very well have. They motivated me, they built trusting and authentic relationships with me, they lived according to their own expectations and held our team accountable, and they were bold and guided our team through adversity, to success. Cindy, Kelly, Debi, and Krisa – thank you.
Employee engagement has an incredible impact on your organization – it can look like great customer service, high performing employee retention, a trust-filled environment, efficiencies and innovations at every turn, or it can be the complete opposite of those things. According to a Gallup study, managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement! Likely, if you’ve been following my blog series on employee engagement, you’ve thought about your employees, what they can do, and maybe what they should do. But now, I want you to take a look at yourself, managers and supervisors. And even more so, those of you at the highest level in the organization. We need to look at who we choose to be our managers. This is the tipping point in employee engagement.
In one of our live class presentations, I found a list detailing what an ideal boss/manager/leader is. An ideal boss is pleasant, approachable, understanding, caring, serves as an adviser and supporter, is flexible and open-minded, respects, values and appreciates employees, and has good management skills. If you’re like me, this resonates with you! Who wouldn’t want this? We all deserve to be valued, supported, and even cared for. In my experience, employees thrive in this type of environment! Now, it has to be balanced with boundaries and some structure. So I’ll pair this with more from Gallup. According to Gallup, a manager with better employee engagement beneath them is able to individualize, focus on each person’s needs and strengths, boldly review his or her team members on a regular (daily) basis, rally people around a cause, align team members with the organization’s mission, and execute efficient processes.
But here’s the kicker. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, shares a scary fact, “Authentic management talent is rare. Gallup’s research shows that just one in 10 have the natural, God-given talent to manage a team of people. They know how to motivate every individual on their team, boldly review performance, build relationships, overcome adversity and make decisions based on productivity — not politics. A manager with little talent for the job will deal with workplace problems through manipulation and unhelpful office politics. Gallup’s research has also found that another two in 10 people have some characteristics of functioning managerial talent and can perform at a high level if their company coaches and supports them.”
What I get from that is, we have 30% of our leadership who has or can have what it takes to be a great manager. I’m not – and Gallup isn’t – saying that the remaining 70% aren’t great people or great employees. But just because they were an expert in their field, does that mean we should make them a manager? As Ron Holifield says (loosely), and this is just one example, “Why do we make our top Engineers our Public Works Directors and expect them to be great people managers? They should stay Chief Line Drawers. That is what they’re great at.” So what are we to do? Who are we to recruit, assess, and develop? First, we need to understand what a good manager is.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager: Analytics and Advice for Leaders report, there are 5 characteristics of a great manager, “Great managers possess a rare combination of five talents. They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships, and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company.”
We’ll continue to delve into this report in the coming weeks and see what makes a great manager. In the meantime, check yourself. Do an informal self-assessment or even ask your subordinates! How do you measure up to the characteristics mentioned above? Do you have the balance of providing both care and boundaries? Are you skilled at managing both people and processes? And remember, employee engagement hinges on you! No pressure…
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)
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!