Engaged employees. Yea, right. You may be thinking this is just another pie in the sky article written by someone who doesn’t spend her days in the trenches. But before you relegate the idea of engaged employees to the realm of fantasy alongside mermaids and unicorns, consider these simple steps, and I mean simple, that you as a manager can implement to bring out the best in those under your leadership.
As a manager, you are always looking for effective ways to motivate your employees, but too often managers mistakenly believe that they must drive their employees toward success rather than lead them there. This strategy may get you to your goal, but your employees won’t have bought into your purpose any more than cattle driven across the open range. Worse, by week’s end you will feel like a haggard cowpoke that’s been behind a dusty herd too long.
No, to get the best from your employees, and save your sanity, lead your employees. To do this, tap into that drive that we all possess by considering the following five ways to engage your employees.
1. Challenge Them
We all want to better ourselves and we all like challenges that we can strive for. Challenge your employees to improve with goals they can strive for and obtain, but don’t make them too easy to reach. Set goals just outside their comfort level but still attainable. Make sure that the goals are specific and understood by the employee.
Now for the important part—communication. Provide regular feedback on how they are doing. Just as a sports coach keeps track of each player’s statistics, you should regularly sit with them and go over their performance. With challenges and constant feedback, employees will know how they are doing and where they can grow.
3. Take the Lead
Stay in front of the herd where they can see you—and lead them. Your attitude will be reflected by your team. You already know that you have to lead by example. The question is what sort of example are your employees seeing? Do you come across as finding your work enjoyable? Are you gracious and available?
You’ve heard it before—be the change you want to see. Treat your employees with respect and courtesy. Encourage them to think creatively and openly. The attitude you show will set the mood for your team.
3. Recognize and Reward
If you are going to set goals and challenge your employees to reach them, then make certain that you reward those that succeed. Giving public recognition along with a reward for a job well done is another way to keep employees engaged and motivated.
Get creative, mix it up a ,and top it all off with a sincere, “Thank you.” Reward individuals or the entire team as you see fit. Rewards can range from a simple plaque to a nice glass award. Other options could include cash prizes, a few hours off with pay, or pizza brought in for the whole team.
4. Give Some
It is hard enough to punch a clock day after day. So don’t make your employees feel that every minute of their day is scrutinized. As much as is reasonable, work with your employees’ schedules. For example, if an employee has small children to get off to school in the morning, then allow them to come in a little later. Showing flexibility towards your employees will be appreciated.
5. Support Growth
Your most valuable asset is your employees. Do you invest in them? When your computer software needs an upgrade, are you content to keep plying along with the outdated version and accept the loss of productivity? Hopefully not. You should have the same attitude towards your employees.
The time and resources you invest in improving your employees’ skills are not only investments in them but in the company as well. They will be better suited to handle their current assignments and take on new challenges in the future.
About the Author
Anna McCarthy is an HR specialist who writes primarily on topics ranging from business relationships to employee satisfaction for Able Trophies.