These days, if you haven’t heard the phrase ‘employee engagement’, you’re likely living under a rock or on a deserted island. A quick search of the term will yield dozens of articles and statistics on the benefits of an engaged workforce.
Most organizational leaders know it’s important to engage their employees, they know they need a strategy….and yet they still haven’t done anything about it. Meanwhile, their culture is eroding, turnover is high, and customers are unhappy.
Always one to give people the benefit of the doubt, I wonder if the lack of movement is due to simply being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start?
If you’re one of these leaders, I suggest a simple first step: ASK your employees.
- Ask them what they like about their role, the company, their manager
- Ask them what they wish could change about the company
- Ask them what types of company perks would excite them
Aside from doing nothing, I believe the biggest mistake leaders make is to assume they know what their employees need or want without ever asking them directly. I certainly made this mistake early on in my career.
I was leading a team of 14 account executives across a multi-state region and, to help them feel connected to each other, I hosted a monthly team meeting. To add value to these meetings (or so I thought), I started a book club. Each month, I’d choose a book that I enjoyed and mail it to each of them at their office. Then, when we’d get together, I’d make time on the agenda to talk about the book. I loved every minute of these meetings, especially the book discussion. It’s no wonder why: I LOVE to read, and I CHOSE the book. Recipe for disaster unless you’re a group of one.
It wasn’t until a few months into the book club that a person on my team approached me and, with tears in his eyes, told me he hates to read and is not a good reader. He was so overwhelmed with the idea of having to read a book each month that he began to dread the meetings. I was devastated. That was the very LAST thing I wanted any of my teammates to feel.
I heard him loud and clear (and was so grateful to him for his honesty) and immediately made the book club optional.
I still think about that conversation 15 years later. It was a pivotal moment for me, one that I will truly never forget.
One more thing to consider: as you compile the questions to send to your workforce (companies like Survey Monkey have a free account option) it’s important you also allow each employee to respond anonymously. It’s the only way to ensure you receive honest answers. If you require your people to attach their name to their response, they’ll likely feel nervous to be candid for fear of retribution. Lack of candor equals an echo chamber of glowing feedback that won’t set you up for success as you build your employee engagement strategy. However, through your efforts to create better employee engagement, you may also create a culture of psychological safety, where your employees no longer need to be anonymous to be honest.
The power of curiosity – simply asking your employees what they want and need and being willing and able to take action on it – will change your organization. I suggest you try it today.
Curious to learn more? Reach out to me email@example.com, I’d love to connect!