Trying to move your company forward without engaging employees is like walking an elderly Labrador Retriever that has arthritis and hip dysplasia. Your arm and shoulder become sore from all of the pulling (OK, dragging), progress is slow and you don’t get very far. Today’s post is about lighting a fire within employees, not under employees. The goal is not to drag them along with you and enforce them into the desired behaviors. These 8 principals for employee engagement enable you to create the environment that helps your staff to do their best. It’s a position that increases the consistency and sustainability of your company.

  1. Share your vision, and where they fit into it. Employees want to understand that their work is more than a means to keep them busy. When they realize the purpose, the big reasons behind the work they are doing, even tasks they’d usually see as trivial take on more meaning.
  2. Train them well. This principle actually goes beyond training into development, which is the application of skills and knowledge. Just-in-time learning can make sure that they learn best practices and then can apply their knowledge right away. Application of knowledge (and seeing the results) helps with retention, enabling your staff to repeat what they’ve learned and sustain improved performance.
  3. Remember the people skills as well as the technical skills. You can be the best technician in the world, but if you can’t build relationships nobody will want to work with you. Most of your staff has never received official development in human relations skills. They have relied on trial and error (slow and not very fun) and role modeling (heaven help you if they see the wrong models!)
  4. Establish performance goals or targets. Use whatever terminology suits your culture, but give your employees something measurable to achieve so they can feel the thrill of victory.  Display a running chart of how many units you produce each day, or the cycle time from order to delivery, or the number of miles without a preventable accident.  When given tangible standards and/or deadlines, individuals summon extra energy and focus.  They like to win.
  5. Give opportunities to collaborate. People like to work together, and when you use team methodology you spread knowledge and understanding throughout your organization.  You increase the odds of team success when you teach teams how to work together, and provide structure and process for team interaction.
  6. Invest time in relationships. This is the difference between using authority (position) and interpersonal (relationship) power to get things done. Relationship building is like making deposits in an emotional bank account – it’s an asset that grows in value. In addition, when you treat individuals like individuals rather than like interchangeable cogs you discover hidden capacity in the form of heretofore unknown intentions, skills and talents. Relationship building creates the means through which both the company and the individuals can accomplish their goals.
  7. Mind the processes. When employees have to deal with the same convoluted work processes every day, or have to expend unnecessary energy on wasted steps even the motivated ones become frustrated. Prevent rework, simplify, save money and create happier and more engaged employees by seeking opportunities to improve your processes. Hint: your employees already have ideas on how it could be done better, faster, more accurately, etc. Ask them.
  8. Celebrate successes. Your employees might be going to great lengths to get their work done. When you notice and publicly recognize work that goes above and beyond expectation you unleash employees’ desire for more recognition and appreciation. They are more likely to repeat peak performance when it is noticed and acknowledged.
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