David Lee writes a great two part article series on increasing employee engagement – but rather than focusing solely on what activities companies can do to improve engagement, he puts a great deal of emphasis on what companies need to do before they can even begin to expect engagement from their employees.
An interesting point that Lee brings up is the idea that employees are often not engaged because they believe that their managers, and company, don’t really care about them – so why should they care about their company? But at the same time, it is often the case that managers don’t feel compelled to be engaged themselves, or help and support their employees, because they believe their employees don’t care.
So the questions is, who is the onus on to kick off the ‘cycle’ that will lead to all parties improving engagement?
The answer, in short:
Lee’s articles focus on the idea that, first and foremost, managers need to show employees that they care about them, and that their opinions are valued. Then, they need to be provided with the support and environment they need to do their jobs effectively. Employees first need to be ‘embraced’ and then ‘empowered’.
Here’s a quick summary of the advice he offers in his two articles: ‘Increasing Employee Engagement: You Must Give First, Then Receive’ and ‘Increasing Employee Engagement: Empower Them to Make a Difference’:
Truly listen to your employees – managers must recognise the importance of responding to, and doing something about, feedback and suggestions they receive from employees. Asking employees for their opinions and then either ignoring or forgetting about those opinions will lead them to believe that they don’t actually have a say and that they don’t matter. But when employees know that their voice is heard, they will be more likely to give input and share and ideas in the future – they can see that their ideas are valued, and that they can make a difference, therefore they are more likely to care and be engaged.
Create a supportive and nurturing work environment – give employees what they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Lee shares some wisdom that Jerry Bannach gave him in an interview:
Finally, acknowledge that empowering your employees simply comes down to “trusting them to do their jobs”. Give people autonomy, rather than micromanaging and trying to control everything.
Lee ends off with a quote from Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’: