Engaging your people is not that hard.

As a CEO, entrepreneur and business advisor I understand how critical employee engagement is to developing and sustaining a great culture. Great culture is a huge competitive advantage with benefits flowing from low turnover, higher productivity and levels of innovation. 

Engagement is not complex. People engagement stems from the most basic elements of human needs and behaviour. I think businesses should start with the basics and measure the results. 

These are 8 actions you can take without spending money to improve your people engagement.

8 Actions You Can Do Now to Boost Engagement in Your Business

  1. Write accurate position descriptions for every role in your business. People need to know the parameters of their work and the expectations for the position they hold. 
  2. Implement a three phase performance review process. I usually start at a three phase process but ideally it is more frequent. The first phase is goal setting. The second phase is a progress review and course correction as needed. The third session is a performance review that is used to plan development, succession, remuneration etc. 
  3. Cascade your strategy by scheduling weekly team meetings between managers and their teams. The purpose of these meetings is to track tasks and activity aligned with the strategic goals of the business. We use a set agenda for these meetings and they are of enormous value in keeping a business on track to achieve its strategy. 
  4. The business owner or CEO must be visible to the people in the business. This means the CEO is accessible informally as well as formally. You can learn a great deal about a company culture by the body language of employees when the CEO is nearby. 
  5. The business owner or CEO must use a channel of communication that keeps all people up to date with what is going on in the business and in the market they operate in. Some of my clients use newsletters or simple emails. I prefer a video that can be delivered from the company intranet or via Vimeo or YouTube.  
  6. People must have access to learning opportunities. Many firms have adopted learning management system to offer online learning for both professional and personal development. Some of my clients have created some very engaging learning using iPhone video, screen recording and other low cost tools. They deliver this video based learning on YouTube or Vimeo. You should at least have a process to encourage people to request training and demonstrate your commitment to training by allocating a budget for this purpose.
  7. Coaching and mentoring will do so much to ensure you do not lose valuable knowledge when people leave your business. Most people really enjoy the opportunity to coach and mentor other people. You must ensure there is a purpose and a pathway for the coaching and mentoring to avoid the program going off the rails. 
  8. Celebrate! Celebration is a social activity that is one of the easiest ways to build relationship bonds between people. I always recommend that no birthday goes un-celebrated. You can celebrate new sales, achievement of goals, personal milestones etc. You can also include social functions around the holidays such as Christmas. One of my personal favourites is including your key customers in some celebrations. What better way to forge strong bonds of engagement between your people and the people they serve. 

The 8 actions above should be done regardless of whether you see signs of deteriorating engagement in your business. If you are aware of the need to improve people engagement it may be time to get some help.  Let’s face it:  it always helps having another person to give you perspective and honest feedback.  You need to get some advice from a person who can bring ‘fresh thinking’ to your business and get your people engaged and performing at their peak. 

Do you need a trusted business advisor, someone who can help you see your business and goals through ‘fresh eyes’?  Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.

5 Tactics to Support Your Employee Engagement Strategy [Part 4]

It used to be a joke that if you had a job title change to ‘Special Projects’ you were headed out the back door of your employment.  Maybe the joke still lives.  However, I have met plenty of very talented problem solvers having a job title the same or similar to ‘Special Projects.’

This tactic requires a bit of a mind shift on the part of some leaders and managers who are wedded to the traditional job description without flexibility.  It is time to re-consider how we structure work in our organisations to enable people to more fully utilise their skills, creativity, problem solving and decision making.  How do we do this?  Projects.

Projects is a big word with a huge spectrum of complexity.  For the purposes of this tactic you can control the size, scale and complexity of projects based on your organisation and the people you have on your team.  I like this definition of ‘project’ I found when I ‘Googled’ the word,

an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.’

People at all levels of your organisation can work on a project basis.  My clients have struggled at times to structure a position into a project framework.  This problem is commonly encountered with jobs involving repetition and reactive work; office administration, personal assistants, reception, manufacturing, warehousing etc.  For these types of positions, I recommend looking at option 3 in the list below.

The entire job description is documented as projects –

  1. Full project descriptions, plans and resources
  2. Project titles/outcomes are included in the position description and the employee creates the project plan and resources
  3. Projects are added to the job description based on current skills or skills that are to be developed.

I have included a short list of some of the attributes and benefits to an organisation and its people when the project framework is applied to job descriptions.

  • Provides a sense of personal responsibility to be accountable for project outcomes.
  • Projects can enable employees in repetitious and/or reactive positions to have a ‘release valve’ to tap into their interests and develop their skills.  This is definitely a boredom prevention strategy.
  • There is less risk of ‘task’ and ‘focus’ drift with defined tasks, milestones and completion dates.
  • Projects are conducive to manager – employee collaboration to address performance hurdles, roadblocks, training needs and other important relationship building interactivity between managers, supervisors and team members.
  • Project methodology leaves less room for vagaries in an individual’s or team’s performance.
  • Successful execution of projects creates positive momentum in a person’s career and often contributes to a greater sense of meaning about their work.

This tactic can be implemented in a pilot roll out for selected positions within your organisation or for new inductees.  By implementing as a pilot you can devote some time to testing and evaluating new work flows, reporting and performance systems.  The manager and supervisors impacted by this pilot will likely require some training and coaching to facilitate and support these changes.

If you have the opportunity you should check in with your ‘C’ level and/or senior management to learn how they structure their work.  You should find that they are all outcomes focused and often their work plans are very close to project methodology.  If this is the case you have a golden opportunity to garner support for this and other engagement tactics.

Would you like to explore this tactic in more detail?  Get in touch and we can help you get a plan together.

5 Tactics to Support Your Employee Engagement Strategy [Part Three]

When you were taught how to swim did you experience the shock and awe of being forced to enter the water while consumed in fear?  Or were you first coached on the pool deck and acclimated psychologically and physically for the inevitable entry into the unknown environment of a large body of water?

If you have been in the workforce for some years, chances are you have experienced the shock and awe and/or the coaching method of training and development.  If you have been around as long as I have you have probably experienced both to differing degrees.

Training and development is not an optional tactic – it is a critical component to your engagement strategy.  It demands its own structured strategy and measurements to ensure it is delivering results for your organization.  The training and development starts on day one [or before] with an effective on-boarding program and continues thereafter in a roadmap of personal and professional development that enhances a person’s ability to contribute to the organization and grow as a human being.  Lofty?  You bet.

Here are a few prime elements that I have found contribute to a solid and effective training and development tactical component to your engagement strategy.

  • There is a linkage between a person’s position or job title to at least one of their learning pathways.  This is often compliance based.
  • The learning and development has a mix of modalities and these do not need to be concurrent – they can occur at different times and for different purposes.  For example:
    • Quality online self paced learning programs.
    • Webinars, seminars and discussion groups.
    • Targeted coaching programs with agendas and feedback.
    • Mentoring programs – particularly effective for succession planning.
    • The business owners and/or leaders are engaged and committed to the learning and development activities in the organization.
    • There is alignment between the organisation’s strategy and the learning and development programs down to the individual level.
    • Learning activities of employees are visible to managers.
    • Learning and development is included in the performance management strategy.
    • Learning for personal development and interests is included in the offerings for all employees.  [I cannot count how many clients initiate an LMS implementation with compliance and corporate learning the only pathways].

I realize I could go on and on with this list.  Give me a call or email me and we can share some more ideas.  If you are seeking some ideas or help in developing or implementing an engagement strategy,  I can help you out.

Big ROI for Employee Engagement Strategy

The Interview

Client: Charles Clayton, Learning & Development Consultant

Industry: Healthcare provider

Location: Dallas, TX, USA

Organization: Baylor Scott & White serves North and Central Texas through  46 hospitals, more than 500 patient care sites, more than 6000 affiliated physicians and 36,000 employees.

Current Situation: BSWH was looking to improve employee engagement and purchased Vado’s 85 courses specifically targeted to increase engagement and retention.  BSWH selected five units with high employee turnover and low employee satisfaction to pilot the courses.  BSWH conducted a pre-pilot survey to measure current employee satisfaction.  They analyzed the results and for each unit identified three areas to improve.  To improve in those areas, the managers were directed to the Vado courses mapped to the selected area.  After the managers implemented the courses, they re-surveyed to assess if employee satisfaction improved. One manager in the pilot commented that they liked having resources to address their challenges.

Customer Success: Across the five units, employee satisfaction improved across the three areas on average by 6.56%.However, for the lowest employee satisfaction score in the pre-pilot survey, the average employee satisfaction improvement was 12.65%!

Customer Comment: Charles shared that these employee satisfaction increases are “statistically relevant”.  Due to the success of the pilot, BSWH renewed their Vado license and will be rolling out the courses more broadly.

5 Tactics to Support Your Employee Engagement Strategy [Part One]

Employee engagement has been at the forefront of business topics for a couple of years now at least.  I have found a number of definitions and interpretations of employee engagement and I really like this article in Forbes by Kevin Kruse, [@Kruse].  Kevin Kruse uses this definition, “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.”

I believe employee engagement is the most critical competitive advantage a business of any size can achieve.  It is the first point of focus when I am asked to lead a business, consult to a business or invest in a business.

I have five key tactics that contribute to building and sustaining employee engagement.  My five tactics can be further broken down into methods, processes, tools and other contributing factors to ensuring the successful execution of each tactic.  You can get in touch with me if you have some ideas, comments or questions.

Recruitment

Believe it or not this one is often the most neglected.  Many companies hire for competencies, track record, experience and education.  These are all fine but if you want to build engagement you need to consider personal behavioural and style and cultural fit.

I use an assessment tool that enables me to gain deep insight into a person’s behavioural profile.  This information enables me to understand clearly how a candidate will behave when faced with certain environment situations.  I have also developed assessments that include competencies to understand the interplay of the behavioural profile and the execution of a job role with mandatory and ideal competencies.  I can also run reports that give me a ‘helicopter’ view of the entire organisation or a specific team to see where the candidate will fit in.  Will the new person fill a gap or skew the team profile one way or other.

I hire slow.  Back in the heated days of tech skill shortages and frenzied demand for IT skills, candidates were hired based on a CV only.  I always resisted and am now benefitting from having a long tenured team of developers in one of my companies.  Consider including some social interaction with short-listed candidates to see if you feel comfortable with them.  If you feel uneasy in a social setting you are likely to feel the same way in the work environment.  You should also include a meeting at the office or a social setting for your team to meet the candidates.  This feedback is invaluable and ensures you are getting a good critical cross check to your impressions and possible biases.

Using the behavioural profiles, multiple interviews and meetings with other team-members is a win-win strategy for you and the candidates.  In my experience doing this shortens the ramp-up time to having a fully contributing team member.  It also contributes to a shared responsibility for helping a new team member to ramp up and enjoy the benefits of enculturation more quickly.

We have a range of off-shelf online courses to help build and sustain employee engagement.  Get in touch and I will send you a full catalog and give you the chance to give some of these courses a ‘test drive.’