Management

Employee Engagement Takes Teamwork

Action plans work best when managers and employees work together.

August 19, 2013
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Studies show that organizations with high employee engagement are more productive and efficient. And these companies boast higher retention numbers, which avoids the costs of training new hires when employees leave.

But you can’t fake employee engagement—nor can managers dictate it.

“Top-down solutions might produce clarity, but they don’t inspire buy-in or practicality,” Gallup Business Journal reports. “That’s because top-down decision making about engagement fails to recognize the varying dynamics among work groups. More important, it misses an opportunity to engage teams in creating and ‘owning’ their own solutions.”

Treat employee engagement as a process, not a one-time event. Action plans formed through open dialogue between managers and employees are a proven
strategy to increase engagement for the long haul.subscribefrontline

When evaluating employee engagement, Gallup Business Journal recommends you ask employees five questions to generate participation, determine the most urgent goals, promote practical courses of action, and encourage ownership:

How do we define success? Gallup’s employee engagement survey features a dozen statements such as “I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right” and “My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.”

Different credit unions—even different departments in credit unions—will answer these questions differently.

Managers should listen for unexpected suggestions and gauge the intensity of the feedback about issues already on their radar.

What’s the ideal outcome? Encourage employees to think big, starting with the best solution—which might not always be the most expensive one.
These conversations breed empowerment and create a benchmark for achievement.

How far must we go to reach the ideal? Talking about your shortcomings as a team or organization isn’t easy. But a transparent discussion builds goodwill and creates a platform for dialogue. And everyone can take responsibility for processes or products under their control.

Which opportunity will have the greatest impact? Engagement that isn’t tied to performance is pointless. Employees want to weigh in on changes that can make their jobs more efficient or effective. You can’t prioritize every issue—or none will be a priority. But giving staff input creates ownership, and encourages them to speak up if other improvement opportunities arise.

What’s every team member willing to do? All employees should leave this discussion with “next steps,” and the knowledge that their role is important to the team.

Managers can—and should—influence engagement. But by involving your team in answering these five questions, you tie engagement to actions that can improve your workplace—and allow you to keep members’ needs top of mind.

This article appeared in the August issue of Credit Union Front Line Newsletter.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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