Keeping your best employees engaged is one of the most essential elements of managing a team.
Recent tech layoffs and service industry hiring challenges illustrate that workers are thinking more carefully about if and when to stay in a job. While salary/pay and benefits matter, employee engagement is also vital. Most of us want to feel some combination of effectiveness as individuals and shared purpose as a team.
Training and professional development can address both areas. Three key ways for managers to do this include developing a sense of purpose, actionable metrics, and shared decision making.
Principle 1: Consistently Talk About the ‘Why’
Creating shared purpose is one of the strongest ways to connect employees to an organization’s goals and values without being prescriptive or micromanaging.
An example scenario is you manage a team of techs doing speed/quality checks for customers, and an organizational goal is to encourage self-education. There’s a checklist or workflow, but since customer needs vary, so do solutions.
- Option A: Use 15 minutes of a weekly team call or post weekly in a dedicated “The Whys” messaging channel to share how a situation connects to the larger goal of helping customers self-educate.
- Option B: Share one example and ask your team to do the same. This makes training and coaching less abstract, and more concrete and relatable.
You’ll have to experiment to see what works for your team, but when done consistently, this helps employees connect to the bigger picture and feel valued.
Principle 2: Use An Actionable Scorecard Model
Great managers know what we measure is what we focus on. Employees feel more engaged when they have clear goals, and can control or change the inputs to get there.
Some characteristics of an actionable scorecard:
- Static milestones and goals, but inputs are flexible
- Enables the person closest to what works or not to change inputs and make choices
- Provides clarity instead of overly focusing on penalties or rewards
Did your salesperson discover a new tactic to increase demo signups? Sounds like an opportunity for a one-on-one about updating their scorecard so they can invest more in those areas.
Principle 3: Create Opportunities for Shared Decision-Making
For managers, sharing power takes practice. Many of us aren’t taught how to do this because our families, schools, and workplaces are hierarchical.
But when employees are involved in decision making, we’re also more likely to feel a sense of responsibility, accountability, and connection to the work.
Here are examples that involve PTO and scheduling:
- Top-down model: Everyone asks the manager for time off, they look at workloads, who has time off scheduled, etc., and make the decision.
- Shared-decision model: Everyone can access the calendar and discuss time off/coverage in a group setting. The manager provides advice or guidance but allows employees to organize based on team needs.
Not every company or organization has flexibility in this specific area, but similar activities — like peer mentoring and employee-led training — can increase employee engagement.
All three of these core principles take practice, but can positively impact your team and business on multiple levels, leading to engaged employees who are more likely to stick around.
Joe Cardillo is coach and founder of The Early Manager. Cardillo is a coach, trainer, and speaker who works with SMBs to build teams for trust, alignment, and speed. Learn more about Cardillo on channelWise.
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