Three Strategies to Connect and Engage Employees by Marcia Zidle

The attitude “I don’t give a rip about my job” happens every single day.  Is it happening in your company?  Did you know that 50% of workers today would rather be someplace else?  And another 20% take out their frustration every day and may be doing more harm than good. What about your people?

I have found that employees get this way when they are bored with their job, or feel like a faceless cog in a big wheel or don’t know how “what they do” specifically contributes to the goals of their department or business unit. How can you, as a manager or business owner prevent “It’s not my job” from happening within your team or department?

Three Strategies to Connect and  Engage Employees

1. Communicate the importance of what they do.
Every supervisor should be able to state a meaningful purpose for his department and the work that is being done. Here is a short but powerful statement that was developed by a manager for her five-person benefits group.

“Benefits are about people. It’s not whether you have the forms filled in or whether the checks are written. It’s whether the people are cared for when they’re sick, helped when they’re in trouble.”

It is a statement with the focus on the end result—serving people—rather than on the means or process—completing forms. How well do you communicate the importance of what is being done in your department?

Related: Are You A Pride Builder?

2. Recognize the importance of recognition.
The motto of many supervisors is: Why would I need to thank someone for doing something he’s paid to do?  Workers repeatedly tell, with great feeling, how much they appreciate a compliment. They also report how distressed they are when their supervisor is quick to criticize mistakes but not acknowledge good work.

A pat on the back, simply saying “good going,” a dinner for two, a note about them to senior executives, some schedule flexibility, a paid day off, or even a flower on a desk with a thank-you note are a few of the hundreds of ways supervisors can show their appreciation. Money may get people in the door but it doesn’t keep them motivated to go the extra mile.

Related: Rock For Employee Recognition

3. Tap into the importance of involvement.
There may be no single motivational tactic more powerful than asking for people’s input. An accounting manager presented a list of customer complaints at a staff meeting. She then broke the group into teams to find ways to eliminate these service glitches.

Getting every one involved in problem-solving accomplished three goals. It brought the customers to the center of the department’s day-to-day operations; it lead to greater ‘buy-in” when changes had to be made in a process, policy or procedures; and finally it said to everyone that they and their ideas are valued.

Related: Talk Less Listen More

As one very proud production line worker in an automotive plant said to me: “They only looked at what we could do from our neck down…now it’s for what we can do from our neck up.”

Management Success Tip:

It is true that most people must work to survive and money is certainly a motivator — but up to a point. For your employees to commit to and achieve great things, they need to experience purpose, recognition and involvement. As a manager you can provide that. It costs you nothing. And you will gain engaged employees who are working together to increase productivity and profitability.

Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?

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