“How do I get my team to care?” Employee engagement is the number one requested topic from my readers. If you’re struggling with employee engagement, you’re not alone. Gallup says:
“Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.”
The disengagement increases with education. Americans with a college degree are “significantly less likely to be engaged in their jobs than are those with a high school diploma or less.” We hire for knowledge and then discourage contribution.
The Secret to Employee Engagement
I recently met with 2 new hire training classes. One was alive, actively interested, asked great questions, and shared their optimism for their careers. The other class looked at me skeptically. Didn’t say much. Yawns were involved.
My colleage looked at me after my meetings, “Wow, what a difference in engagement between those two groups.” What was the difference? The hiring demographics? The trainer? Frontline leadership? Nope.
Look Within First
It was me. I approached the first class as I normally do. I walked around the room and asked each person to introduce themselves– to tell me something about them personally. I heard of new babies, graduations, hobbies. I also asked them to share “why they will be a rock star in this position.” As they shared, I linked their ideas to key messages I wanted to reinforce. Then, I shared a bit about me both at work and at home. After all that, we started the Q &A.
It was time consuming and we were short on time. As I entered the next classroom, I was warned “you took too long with the last class, we’re behind on the agenda, and we have a plane to catch.” I skipped the one-on-one intro stuff, and moved right to Q and A. Sure I was energetic and perky, but there was no trust. It wasn’t personal. I felt scary, and the yawns began. In hindsight, I should have skipped that class.
If you can’t engage well, don’t show up.
As leaders we set the tone for employee engagement.
- Make it personal
- Ask questions
- Share yourself
- Create connection
- Inspire confidence
- Assure them they matter
- Insire a compelling vision
- Link unique skills to the vision
- Be fully engaged yourself