Joe Takash: Four strategies to keep your employees engaged at work Featured

10:18am EDT November 1, 2012
Joe Takash, president, Victory Consulting Joe Takash, president, Victory Consulting

A staggering 72 percent of employees today are either not engaged in their job or they are actively disengaged, according to a recent survey conducted by the Gallup Organization. This means they are not psychologically connected to their company and more likely to leave, or worse, they are physically present but mentally checked out and infecting trusted colleagues with their displeasure.

Very few staff members greet their boss and say, “Good morning, Bob. I’m feeling actively disengaged today and I’m going to demonstrate this to everyone … but you!” For employment survival, staff members may show one face to their boss, but the consequences of their lack of connectedness can be as insidious as a broken water pipe in your ceiling.

Impact areas that can suffer are safety, turnover, retention, client satisfaction, trust, morale, productivity and profit. The good news per this Gallup survey is that when you have an engaged workforce, client satisfaction and profitability are 12 percent higher and productivity is 18 percent higher.

Companies must be proactive about engagement and here are four strategies that can help.

Strategy 1: Implement regular knowledge updates

The difference between data and knowledge is paramount. Data is merely the what, which is often benign and shows little individual value for the employee. Knowledge is “the what, the why and the how staff members contribute to the success.” In the absence of communication, employees create their own dialogue, and it’s typically negative. Keep them informed.

Benefits:

  • Increases accuracy of understanding.
  • Aligns teams and departments with vision and strategy.
  • Builds morale and inspires performance through inclusion.

Strategy 2: Train your staff

The companies who don’t invest in training and developing staff are shooting themselves in the foot, not only because there is little expanse of knowledge and skills but because it sends a clear message that the investment is not worth it.

Benefits:

  • Recognizes and retains high performers and develops future leaders.
  • Links developmental competencies to strategic initiatives.
  • Cultivates confidence and better decision-making.

Strategy 3: Build a culture of great listeners

Where one manager may need to practice silence and stop finishing sentences, another may need to practice questions that show interest in the complete person, not just the work output of the given foot soldier. The former creates engagement; the latter is toxic.

Benefits:

  • Builds trust, which is the foundation of engagement.
  • Allows managers to adjust coaching and connecting with staff members.
  • Helps executives identify key talent resources.

Strategy 4: Effectively support your boss

If you want to be more engaged, apply the smart practice of creating support for your boss. Be solution-focused and find out what approach you should be taking to be in full support of your supervisor and your team. If people don’t tell you, ask them.

Benefits:

  • Allows you to anticipate what s/he needs.
  • Identify areas where you need to provide highest focus right now.
  • Enables you to step away from day-to-day activities to set long-term strategies to improve performance.

Once-a-year performance reviews do not engage a workforce. Employees deserve to know where they stand, what they’re doing well, where they need to improve and how their boss can support their performance improvement. Engagement requires more timely and qualitative exchanges and when these become a front-burner cultural priority on which management is measured against, an organizational win-win is the consistent outcome.

Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.