Team Sage Blog

How To Engage Your Team

Coffee with Jody - Episode #44

Transcript:
A lot of people are asking me, “How do I engage my employees? What do I do? There’s so many things. I’m hearing all these conflicting ideas.”.

In this video, I’m going to tell you exactly how to engage your employees.

Hi, my name is Jody and welcome to another video. If you’re new to this please Subscribe and be sure you ring the bell so you don’t miss a thing.

Let’s start off with where employee engagement starts.

Now many people are going over there with them. They need to be engaged.

It’s not something you can put on their job description. Engagement actually starts with you and me as business leaders.

Many business leaders and managers are lacking in the skills that are required to engage and to manage and to lead their teams. They’re lacking in communication skills, problem solving skills, decision making skills, team building skills.

They’re missing in many of the skill sets that are required in order to be able to be effective in leading and managing people. Employee engagement isn’t a secret. It’s human interaction and it’s not easy.

Most of the time we’d rather get on with it than to have to slow down long enough to learn to think and to interact with our teams in effective ways. However, there’s a strong business case for why it matters.

You have to believe in it and you have to be willing as a leader to let your ego style, of command and control, go in order to be able to connect on an emotional plane with your employees.

Now when I say that I can hear, in the background, “Oh God, this soft stuff mushy I’m not interested. All I want is the results. Well guess what. In today’s day and age the only way you can get results is by being willing to get engaged with them because in the industrial age where we treated people more like parts of a machine you might have been able to be more forceful command and control.

But today, knowledge workers may have more knowledge about an area of say accounting, or marketing, than you do, and your success rides on their willingness to engage on your behalf.

So, how do we do this?

Engagement is about ownership. So, let me take you through an exercise. I’m going to give you a couple of math problems, and then I want you to tell me what’s the first thing you notice. OK.

Four plus five equals nine.

Twelve minus five equals six.

13 plus two equals 15.

So what’s the first thing you noticed?

That’s right. Twelve minus five doesn’t equal six, Jody, it’s seven. And that’s typically what we do as managers.

The first thing we do is, we notice what’s wrong, rather than two of those problems were actually right! And then, we go to the employee and we focus on what they didn’t do right rather than what they do do right, and then we wonder why they avoid us, why they don’t want to interact, why, the moment they see us coming, they put their heads down.

Because the environment isn’t safe.

So one of the first things there is to do is just just start looking for catching people doing things right. That’s number one.

Another thing you can do is you can ask, “What do my people need from me, in order to be able to do their best work?”.

Another question is, “What’s it like being led by me?”.

I can tell you, years ago, I wouldn’t want to have been led by me. That’s for sure! I’ve learned a lot in the last 14 years of having this business, but I can tell you in the beginning, when I was scared, and I was new, I probably wasn’t very easy to work for.

You could go and you could ask each of the individual people on your team: “What’s important to you?”; “What’s interesting to you?”; “Where do you want to make a contribution?”; and listen for their answers, so that you know maybe this person is looking for expanding their capacities or gaining mastery in an area in the business or maybe they’re interested in working in another area of the business.

But just listening is going to point you in the direction of ways that you can improve their experience of being on your team.

I’m going to share with you a couple of things that you can do, places to look, that would be almost like keys.

First of all, set clear goals and expectations. People always want to know where they stand and what’s expected of them. If they don’t have a job description with key performance indicators of how you’re going to measure them in terms of their performance that’s a really good starting place.

Secondly, train them. Only 5 percent of employees that were surveyed said that they’ve had any training in the last five years. 5 percent!

Communicate with them. How many team meetings do you actually run? Is it once a month, once a week, every day huddles? Is it a year ago? Team meetings really matter. People want to be abreast of what’s going on in your organization.

Coaching your team. This one actually demonstrates a 100 percent return on your investment in coaching your team, taking either your time or having an outside coach helping them to improve their productivity and performance.

The next one is leadership flexibility, being who’s needed for that employee. Everybody’s behavioral style, everybody’s motivator and everybody’s strengths and attributes are different.

So rookie leadership is, this is who I am, take it or leave it. Whereas mature leadership is who’s needed for this individual, and this individual, and this individual, and being able to modify our style to be a match for that person so that we can have the best rapport and the most effective way of interacting with them.

Be careful in the way that you recognize employees. Because a lot of times we reward our top performers, and what that does is it actually creates an environment where other people on a team feel like losers. So, really look at your recognition and rewards programs and make sure that they’re aligned with creating an environment where everyone is honored and valued.

Retention starts in the hiring process. The experience that people have when they come to interview for you, the way the job ad is written, when they walk into the office, how prepared are you for onboarding somebody, what’s their first six weeks like in your business. So, all the way from recruitment through onboarding and into the ongoing training and development, engagement starts way beyond where you might think, it starts starts all the way back at who’s going to be a good fit for our company.

And, lastly, there is honesty. Trust is the number one foundational aspect of engagement. The team doesn’t care if you make a mistake. They care how you handle something. So if you do make a mistake and you can honestly say hey, you know what, I behaved badly here, it’s not what I’m committed to, please forgive me. And then, you put in a practice to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They can respect that. They’ve got a lot of room for that. But when we pretend like we’re infallible, we erode trust. So, actually being willing to be honest, and authentic, goes a really long way on the emotional plane, which is what engagement is all about.

Employees, who carry their weight and act responsibly, lose respect for leaders that don’t hold everyone to the same standards, and when they lose respect, and when they lose their will to add that discretionary effort to do a job at that next level, then your zombie behavior starts to creep in and people just go through the motions.

Sometimes, we justify, as leaders, why we let this one off the hook and not the others, but that actually erodes the confidence, and the will, of our high performers.

So, if you want to have a highly engaged team, it’s important to recognize that the environment that pulls everybody up to high performing has to be managed by you, you the leader.

We need people who are ready to lead when we’re ready to stop leading. So, the development of your team is in your own best interests, aside from the business case, aside from the profitability growth, aside from outperforming your competition.

Actually engaged people, who are pulling learning toward them, who are pulling growth toward them, give you the freedom in your business to either focus on something else that you want to do, or going to the next level of expansion, or diversification.

But, unless they’re engaged, they’re not going to be there doing that kind of work that will free you up, when you’re ready to move back.

A few moments ago, I was mentioning about the math problems and the first thing that we notice is the one that was wrong, well Shawn Anchors got a great TED talk on happiness in the workplace. And, his research showed that when we create an environment where people feel safe and they’re happy that all the metrics in business actually increase.

And, rather than going into the 19 percent here, and 21 percent there, and 13 percent here, knowing that when you create an environment where people feel safe and they feel happy, it actually releases the endorphins in the brain that create greater levels of awareness, and focus ,and energy, to do better work, more productive work, more creative work.

And so, rather than going around and looking for what people are doing wrong and pointing out what they’ve done that they could do better actually going around and saying, “Hey, that’s awesome. Could you show me how you did that?” Or “Could you show so-and-so how to do this?”, and engaging them and what they’re doing right, will go a long way towards creating an environment where people feel engaged and want to contribute more.

Because I work with a lot of businesses, I know that from the old days, and there’s still remnants of it in many of us, myself included, where we find what’s wrong. If all you do, is stop that behavior and start catching people doing things right, you’re going to go a really, really long way on creating sustainable engagement with your team, and that doesn’t cost you anything.

A couple of years ago, I got certified in an engagement program called ‘Engage and Grow’, and the reason I chose to get certified in this particular program is that unlike many of the other engagement programs that are out there where we’re laying a program on a team, this particular program has a framework.

It’s a framework, but inside of it, while it’s guided, the actual content is created by the members that are in that group. And that leads to buy in, it leads to a public accountability – nobody ever wants to be the one who didn’t do what they said they were going to do. It also creates a relatedness. And there’s aspects of it that includes feedback.

Believe it, or not, as much as people say: “Oh My God! Feedback from my peers, I don’t want that!”, that routinely, around the world, is the aspect that people say they loved the most and it’s the one that, when the program is complete, they’re committed to continuing to do on their own.

Other tools for engagement include Gallup’s survey. Gallup has the 12 questions you’ve probably heard of these in the past. I’ll go through and read them to you in a moment.

But, the Gallup organization does a lot of work as it relates to engagement and they do it mainly through the StrengthsFinder assessment. So the StrengthsFinder is an assessment tool where they will give you your top five natural attributes that still have to be developed into a strength but that you’re born with. It’s like a natural wiring and they couple that with what are the things that they found have people follow a leader, and creates teams that have high, high levels of engagement.

The Gallup organization was study high performing people, and high performing teams and they were looking for what’s common. They figured if they could isolate what was common then everyone would have access to high performance. Well in their studies what they found was there was no single attribute that everyone shared in common like say discipline. What they did find was that people who were reliably able to deliver results were working to a natural talent that they had developed into a strength, and in the assessments they give you those, your top five. You can get all 34, but really the top five are most important.

You still have to develop a natural attribute into a strength. However, that’s where it’s easy, because you have a natural attribute. You still have to learn, but it’s easy to learn, it’s easy to develop.

While they were doing that work, they were also looking at what do our corporations, and our school systems, and organizations, focus on. And, I don’t know about you, but certainly for me and many people I speak to, they say well you’re really good at this, but you better work on this thing you’re not so good at, again going back to what we’re not so good at.

And that research showed that no matter how much time, attention, energy and money you throw at a non-talent it will only ever improve between 10 and 15 percent. So, what we do is, we create mediocre, miserable people trying to get better, working really hard to get better at, something they’re never going to get much better at.

But this is important because, engaged people are people who are working to something they enjoy doing, a place where they can experience mastery, a place where they have autonomy, so that they’re in an environment that allows them to be a contribution. People want to actually contribute, they want there to be purpose to what they’re doing, rather than pushing a boulder up a hill till you get to the top and it rolls back down again.

When people feel like they’re moving forward, they’re engaged. And, a way that you can have people on your team be engaged is to know their strengths, and to help them to work in an environment where they can develop those strengths.

So I’ve shared a lot of different things that you can do anywhere from looking at what are people doing right, to investing in StrengthsFinder, to looking at engagement programs like Engage And Grow, one I know and love, but there are others.

Perhaps, one thing that you might consider doing is choosing someone who’s going to be the engagement champion. Somebody who has the listening of other people on the team and who would be willing to be the person who keeps that conversation for engagement alive in your organization.

And then, talk with your team, see what it is that’s working and not working.

I’ve shared with you some simple things that you can do, some inexpensive or free things that you can do to begin engaging your team and you can go on up the up the ladder to all manner of levels.

All of the teams that I’ve worked with, that have invested in their teams, are getting astounding results because their team feels valued.

So, if all you do is make sure that they experience being valued, you’re going to go a long way on getting engagement in your company.

Great companies improve engagement by focusing on the culture. Ninety percent of the people in a great company say they believe in the purpose of that company. Sixty seven percent say it’s safe for me to speak up, it’s safe for me to challenge the status quo in my company, and they believe in real change because they’ve seen steps being taken that are producing results. It’s not a quick fix. It’s got to become part of your business strategy. Investing in the growth of your people. And that will give you the kind of engagement that will let your company soar.

We’ve gone through lots of ideas here. Take the ones that are simple for you to start with and then build on that. Start with finding what people are doing right. Find somebody who can be the champion. Do the team meetings. Start investing at higher and higher levels. And, as you do, you’re going to see astounding results in your company.

So thank you for watching this video. And before you leave please subscribe and ring the bell so that you don’t miss a thing.

Till next time.

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