There are so many studies and articles written in business magazines and on blog posts today that it is clear we have an Employee Engagement problem. Note I didn’t say issue or opportunity because there is no question that the state of affairs in the area of engagement in the workforce today meets the standard of problem. A lack of engaged employees is costing businesses throughout the United States billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and turnover. I might in all honesty be tempted to move from the level of problem to the level of crisis.
Here are a few ideas I have on actions we can take to turn around this pending crisis.
Change our Attitude: Many would say that there needs to be a change of culture. Myself, I would say we need to change our attitude. Our current attitude towards workers is that they are paid to meet the goals we set for them. In other words, they work for us. The new attitude needs to say they are paid to work with us towards a common goal of growth and opportunity. In this world, they work with us.
Realize People Matter: We spend billions of dollars every year in this country on new technology and systems. Some of that spending on new innovative ideas is truly worth the money. Having said that, no matter how good the technology or the system it takes good people, if not great people, to get the return on investment expected for this technology. Systems are like football plays, no matter how well designed they are, without players to execute the play it is going no where. Find and develop great people.
Redefine Teams: We have all been told for years that there is no I in team. My view is that a team is made up of individuals. And that great teams have outstanding individuals working together and being led by an outstanding leader. In almost any sport the great teams get results because they have outstanding players in each position and a coach that knows how to bring them together toward a common goal. When one member of the team fails to be outstanding the results are in jeopardy.
Focus on People Skills and People Development: Show people we are interested in their future. Their work future with your company and their ability to represent themselves and your company in the community. Help them develop what many call “soft skills”, and which I call “People Skills” because they are not soft, they are as valuable as gold in developing customer sales and service skills, communications skills, leadership skills and life skills. People Skills are the key to everything from influencing people to buy your product to handling the difficult accountability conversations we all must have to get results. And outside of business they can improve the quality of your life.
Lead By Walking Around: People want to see the leader. They want to hear his vision and they want to see the actions he takes. Hiding in an office, sending down directives focused only on your needs will never get you a engaged team. Let them see you see. Talk with them not only about work but about life and show them you want them as part of the team that gets outstanding results.
These are five people centered ideas that can make a big difference in engaging your team because they are focused on them. And because they look at moving people back to the forefront of your business, which is where they belong and which will help them be engaged. Engagement is not about money and not about allowing people to not get needed results. It is about showing people they matter to you as people, not an employee number.