5 Be’s of Employee Engagement
By Gerard Johnson, M.S. December 07, 2020
What does employee engagement mean to you? Is it having “satisfied” employees who clock in on time every day and work 9 to 5 every day without complaint? Is it making your staff happy at all costs and avoiding conflict? Forbes.com defines employee engagement as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” Creating this emotional connection with your team is not easy and will not be achieved with insincere, one-off gestures. Engagement is something that has to be earned every day and cultivated until it is a part of your office culture. The Army used to have a marketing pitch of “be all that you can be.” Listed below are 5 “Be’s” that all leaders should strive to be if they are truly committed to achieving employee engagement in their practices.
Nothing kills employee engagement like a negative leader. Your mood is your team’s mood. You are the leader of your practice; if you are in a bad mood, then that energy transfers to your employees and can create a dark cloud over the entire practice. A big part of keeping your team motivated and engaged is providing the light when all seems dark. People want a positive work environment.
Are you dialed in ready to work when you walk into your office every day? If you are not present and fully engaged in your work, how do you expect your team to be fully engaged in its work? Your team follows your lead, so be a presence in your office. “Rounding” with your team shows you are willing to meet them where they are and you are ready to answer their questions in the moment. When you are rounding, give praise, coach, and, most importantly, show them that you care. This does not mean micromanaging and hulking over your employees’ shoulders as they work. Sometimes when I round, I simply just walk through the office and if no one asks me a question then I just continue to walk. Being present doesn’t mean you need to be a pest.
Being a presence in your office puts you in a position to make yourself aware of the problems your team faces. Now it’s up to you to apply your knowledge.
Does your team need a listener, a visionary, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to hold it accountable? Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all pursuit and your team will be more engaged if it knows that you care about the team members as individuals and you are aware of their needs. Ask your employees how they want to be recognized, how they want to be coached, and what keeps them engaged? When your team knows that you’re aware of its problems and care about them individually, you build trust.
You are now a presence in your office, aware of the problems and roadblocks your employees face, so now it’s time to be awesome. Employees are more engaged if they see that you are not only listening to their needs but working to fix their problems. Is everyone complaining about the fax machine, well then fix it or replace it. Small fixes to small problems can often lead to big jumps in employee engagement because the team feels like it is being heard and changes are made when problems are brought to your attention. Being there, being aware, and being awesome at fixing the problems as they arise will create the BBB Employee Engagement Feedback Loop that will supercharge engagement. If we properly work on the feedback, we create a lasting culture of engagement in our practices.
You have been a positive presence in your office. You’re aware of your employees’ needs. You’ve been an awesome boss who has been able to solve most of those needs. What happens when an employee brings a problem to you and the solution is not the one desired? The answer is that you have to be honest with your team from the start. The ultimate secret weapon to employee engagement is trust. Your employees have to trust you to be honest with them regarding your limitations as well as your expectations.
We are our expectations. So, set straightforward and honest expectations for what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Nothing kills engagement like dishonest positive praise. Employees generally know when they are not meeting expectations and even if they don’t, their co-workers certainly do. If you are not providing an honest performance feedback loop to all of your employees, then you will see resentment steadily build. No matter how positive, present, aware, or awesome you think you are, it will crush all employee engagement efforts. Being honest creates trust and trust builds lasting employee engagement.