Wherever your team’s current engagement level is, there is always the opportunity to make it better. By doing so not only does your team benefit but also your department, your organisation, and of course, you. As a line manager you can seize the opportunity of driving greater engagement by choosing to take responsibility for employee engagement, and here is how.
Clarify your engagement objectives
We all need something to aim for, be it for work or for life. It helps to guide us, prevent us going off on a tangent and engagement is no different. Clarity is needed to have clear, fixed and desirable goals that you can easily share. With a personal employee engagement objective it is much easier to identify the right thing to do and also bring everyone on the journey.
Where to start? The simplest approach is to work out what everyone wants (including you) and how it fits together. By knowing what you want, what your organisation wants and your team wants, you will piece together what your priorities are that align to all.
- Work out what you want
We’ve all heard the saying ‘love yourself before loving others’ or ‘put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others’ when on a plane. Well engagement is the same. As a line manager your own engagement sets the trend and if you are engaged at work, your team will likely follow (i.e. leading by example). Research by Aon Hewitt has shown that if managers themselves are engaged then they are more likely to take meaningful action to improve team engagement.
Maybe you are already an engaging manager, somewhat engaged, or even worse totally disengaged. If you are not engaged in your role then you are not alone and even senior leaders have struggled to feel engaged. Our report on barriers to engagement showed that senior leaders talked about leading with purpose but often lacked the self-awareness required.
‘One CEO said: “I do my best work when I feel passionately committed to what I’m doing as a human being”. However, to lead with passion and purpose, CEOs acknowledged that this requires deep levels of self-awareness and on-going processes of self-enquiry.’
Despite the need for self-awareness, some CEOs admitted that it was difficult for them to reach ‘true’ self insight when conversations and feedback in their organisations do not stem from a place of honesty and deep mutual trust.
This report showed that while feedback is essential to gain self-awareness, some CEOs felt ‘deeply uncomfortable’ to ask for feedback in this way and others distrusted the feedback because hierarchy would prevent it.
So how do you raise your own awareness, improve your engagement and in turn your team’s engagement? You start by taking ownership of your own engagement and taking the time to focus, reflect and be honest with yourself.
- Recognise your own engagement and take conscious, proactive ownership of it.
- Understand your personal engagement drivers (e.g. values, strengths, purpose and preferences) and take the initiative to align your experience of work to them.
- Understand your personal disengagement risks and take the initiative to mitigate them.
This won’t be an easy task to dig deeper but you can be confident the long term gain will far outweigh the short term ‘pain’.
- Work out what your organisation wants
Employers are increasingly recognising that success depends on employees at all levels. The expectations from employers is for employees to thrive, and not just survive, in a climate of increasing challenge and change. Similarly people managers are required to operate more as leaders and coaches, rather than managers in the traditional sense.
Each organisation is unique and to know what your organisation wants, it helps to understand:
- How does your organisation define engagement?
- How does your organisation manage engagement?
- How does your organisation present all of this externally?
Answering these questions will help form the picture of what the organisation’s desire is and how that aligns to you and your team.
- Work out what your team wants
Just as the expectations of employers are changing, the expectations of employment are evolving too. Many employees are increasingly seeking an employment experience that is enjoyable, meaningful, flexible and complimentary to their other priorities. They want to work for an organisation (and a manager) who gets it and gets it right.
Connect with your team members and get to know what engages them, just how you did for yourself in the above section:
- Recognise what engages your team and individuals
- Get to know their personal engagement drivers and disengagement risks
The cross-over of what your team wants, what the organisation wants and what you want, will help you define robust, compelling and clear objectives that align to all parties. This will enable you to know what you have to do, what you want to do and most importantly why you are doing these things. Collectively you will be able to set ambitious but achievable targets that positively drives the engagement of your team, organisation and you.
Further information on Taking Ownership of Employee Engagement can be found in our Engaging Managers Zone.
Author Bio: Riten Solanki, EFS Comms Hub