You can hire people, you can fire people, and you can tell them what to do. What you can’t do is make them like what they do. Some business leaders are content with having an unhappy team; as long as they do what they are paid to do then the state of their mental health is seen as superfluous. This line of thinking is not only wrong, but it is entirely counterproductive to the continued survival of a business. Gallup has run some excellent pieces that demonstrate the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In particular they list several additional things that engaged employees bring to the table: motivation, innovation, and a willingness to take on more responsibility within the company. So how can you keep your team engaged?
That level of motivation contrasts greatly with employees who don’t even want to be there. They do their jobs, but they never put in more than the bare minimum of effort. Don’t expect them to ever go outside of what their job description requires, and if there is a chance for them to skip out on work without getting fired, they’ll take it. Obviously, you don’t want to have a team that consists of these people. But without the right knowledge of how to motivate a team, you’ll find yourself unable to inspire your employees to go above and beyond what is required of them.
A great company cannot exist without great employees, and there are steps you can take to mold them into the people you want to have working for you. These tips are proven methods of getting your employees to be engaged in what they do, and anybody can learn to apply them.
1) Keep Your Team Engaged: Be a team, not a dictatorship
Every ship needs a strong captain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second reminding your employee who’s the boss. Your employees look to you for guidance, but they also want to feel as though you are in tune with everything that is going on. Some managers come off as though they are giving mandates from heaven, or worse, they rattle off long lists of orders because they don’t want to do the work themselves. If you give the directive and then pitch in to reach the goal, you’ll show your employees that they are all part of a team, and they sink or swim together.
2) Keep Your Team Engaged: Give them a chance to shine
It is true that some people are placidly content with being a cog in the wheel. I’m sure you know of at least one person who is sitting in a job they are relatively indifferent to just so they can collect a pension in twenty years. Those that fit that mold will gravitate towards jobs that give few chances to stand out and plenty of job security. For those who want to achieve more, they will never settle for a job pushing pencils all day. These restless employees are always looking for a way to prove to you that they are capable of so much more than low-level work. Denying them this opportunity will either push them to greener pastures, or if they can’t/won’t quit, cause them to become disillusioned with what they do.
If you find somebody who wants to prove themselves, let them. An employee who shows the initiative and drive to better themselves is a person that will bring your business an incredible amount of value. Don’t waste this potential.
3) Keep Your Team Engaged: Don’t take them for granted – show your gratitude
This goes beyond a simple “thank you”, although those two words can have quite a bit of power in themselves. If your employees feel like their contributions are not recognized or rewarded, then they will feel little incentive to go above and beyond in what they do. How you show this gratitude is as important as the action itself, because a perceived token gesture is even more insulting than a lack of a reward at all. Put another way, if somebody comes up with a million-dollar idea and you give them a monogrammed lanyard as a gift, don’t expect that person to stick around. Rewarding achievement is the flip side to punishing failure, and a balance between both is necessary to craft the ideal team.
As intuitive as these three traits seem, you probably know from personal experience that a lot of managers don’t quite know how to implement these strategies effectively. If you find yourself having difficulty reaching your employees, ActionCOACH can help you with that. The people we hire have spent years of their life honing and developing these traits, and their expertise and guidance can help you develop these on your own.