Once again, while these classifications may be useful and may especially be a helpful starting point, they are really just that — a starting point. As a manager, you really need to know and understand your employees completely and individually. The better you understand your employees, the more likely you will know how to motivate and engage each of them — you will understand when you need a carrot and when you need a stick … as well as the appropriate size and type of each.
Approaches to boosting employee engagement
There is no one-size-fits-all or universally best approach for engaging your employees; however, there are several basic approaches that you as a manager should consider. Gerard Seijts and Dan Crim from the Richard Ivey School of Business sum many of the effective approaches into what they refer to as the “Ten C’s” of employee engagement. As you might guess, each primary approach word in their list begins with the letter C (Connect, Contribute, Clarity, Convey, Congratulate, Control, Career, Collaborate, Credibility and Confidence). We share some of their thoughts mixed with some of our own.
Seijts and Crim state employee engagement will directly reflect how an employee feels about his/her relationship with the boss. Hmm … Do you have an employee who does not seem to be performing at the level you would like? How well do you Connect with this employee? If the employee does not perceive that you value him/her, then he/she may not perform at a high level; alternatively, he/she may also seek opportunities elsewhere. The majority of employees also desire to Contribute to the organization, but they also want to know that their contributions are valued and are important. Do you recognize your employees’ contributions, both small and large? Do your employees feel that their contributions matter? The point being made here (which we touch on a bit more below) is to give your employees positive “strokes” when appropriate — recognize them for a job well done in front of their peers, mention them in employee newsletters if you have one, find positive points to cite during evaluations.
Several of Seijts and Crim’s approaches relate directly to your communication skills as a leader. As the leader, you must actively communicate with your employees. In communicating, you should provide Clarity about goals and visions of your business unit, why these are important, and how individuals contribute to and are important to these goals. You must Convey feedback — both positive and constructive — to employees on a regular basis. People need to know what is expected of them, they need to know when they are doing something well and are appreciated — Congratulate them — and they need to know when they can make improvements and when they have made mistakes. However, remember that negative feedback does not have to be presented in a negative manner. Dale Carnegie says, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” You will get better results if you coach them rather than condemn them … carrots are usually perceived much more positively than sticks.
You can also increase employee engagement by avoiding micro-managing your employees; allow your employees to think and act for themselves. Delegate and allow employees to approach new challenges. Give them Control over their jobs. Seek their input in decisions making; employees respond better to change when they feel they have a valued voice in the discussion. Provide challenges and opportunities for your employees in their Career. If you are successful in implementing these “Cs,” your employees will look at their work with you as a career, rather than just a “job,” and you both benefit. Give your employees opportunities to further their skills, give them the resources to be successful, challenge them and hold them accountable. You will keep them more engaged with this approach. Encourage an environment of teamwork, one in which employees Collaborate with and trust each other. Strong teams that care about each other, that care about the organization and its goals, are engaged and productive.