The key to a successful and productive workforce is to make them feel engaged.
There are endless discussions about how to make employees feel valued; giving them extra time off, being flexible with work hours making sure you say ‘Thank You’ and congratulating them when they have done well. Yes it will make them feel valued, but they wont’ feel completely engaged. Here are some strategies on how to engage your workforce and build better relationships;
1. Ask them – What are their values? What are their goals, what are their ideas? You see the best way to make a person feel valued is to make them feel a ‘true part’ of your organisation. What if their values are different to the organisations’? Sometimes when an organisation changes direction the new focus can be contradictory to an employees values which can create disruption in their productivity. They may act out, showing less interest and eventually move on. Understanding your employees values, will help you understand what drives them forward e.g. a worker joins an organisation that delivers an outreach service to the homeless. Due to lack of funding the organisation changes how it delivers its service, to running a drop-in session at a local church. Your staff member becomes snappy and disruptive, calling in sick regularly. By eliciting that staff members values, you may uncover that they have an issue with the religious venue or the change in working hours could be impacting their work-life balance. There maybe simple solutions to rectify a disruptive workforce, if only you take the time to elicit their values. Note of caution, eliciting values is different to eliciting opinion.
2. Have your staff members implement their ideas. Get them to share their ideas and then lead on them. And I mean really lead – not ‘off you go but I will secretly control this’ kind of lead. If they want meetings, have meetings. If they want coffee instead of tea, let them have it – whatever they need. It is like a child planning their own party. A little child may be more excited about planning their own Pirate party than going to someone else’s Cowboy one. A worker will be more productive when they are passionate about what they are delivering than being micro managed. It does not have to be about implementing ‘BIG’ ideas, often these can be relatively small things e.g. organising a staff party, changing the layout of the office, running a charity event etc.
3. Harness their skills – When you engage your staff you will find out about hidden skills that could really enhance your business. A social media whizz maybe able to help you develop a great marketing strategy, even if they work in accounts. An event planner may have an aptitude for spreadsheets. Your receptionist may be an artist. Find their strengths and interests and then harness those skills.
4. Share your vision – As a manager/executive or business owner, you should have a vision, a goal or something that you wish to achieve. Share this with your employees, let them know what they are aiming for. Then be open to suggestion about how to get there. You should control your vision, but let it be a collective methodology and make them feel part of achieving a dream.
5. Understand what’s in it for them. Why do they want to work for you? People do go to work to make money so they can survive, but in order to really live they need to experience passion, achievement, confidence, drive. How will you allow them to flourish if you are saying ‘this is where we are headed and this is how we are going to do it whether you like it or not’ ? Ask them what attracted them to your company, understand what drives them, what was the hook that sold you to them?
6. Check your own ego – So you set up a company and its doing pretty well. It doesn’t mean that you are right about everything. A ‘know-it-all’ boss will fall from being an Inspiration to an Irritation in a Nano-second if you don’t check your own ego. A successful business will soon start to falter if it develops a reputation for a high staff turnover, high sickness rates and treating staff badly. People talk and move jobs all the time. If an employee is going to leave, you want them to leave with a good word to say about you, otherwise you business could end up in tatters.
Remember that a true leader will empower no enforce. To engage your employees, is about YOU being brave and letting go of the reins for a little while. This is not about relinquishing all responsibility, but allowing creativity to flow in all different areas of your business. Give your employees some control and amazing things will happen.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free