There are many things that contribute to employee engagement such as opportunities, personal development and even good pay. But we’re not interested in just engagement, our goal is to create highly engaged teams, because it’s highly engaged teams that deliver great results.
With highly engaged teams I have helped companies increase their operational performance by 50-500 percent, yes that’s right by 50 to 500 percent, whereas teams who are just engaged generally improve performance by just 22%.
So your goal has to be to create highly engaged teams because that is what is going to make you stand out as a leader and will help your teams, department and company outperform the competition.
I want to share three things that can help pushed your teams from being engaged to highly engaged.
Culture is lot more important than you might think. A lot of people have heard the Peter Drucker quote “Strategy eats culture for breakfast” but even that doesn’t communicate the level of impact that culture has on engagement.
Why is that?
Well, that’s because culture is what guides people when there is no one there to lead them, and if you have created a culture that gives people purpose, is one that is aligned with the goals and the talents of the organization, then people are going to become a part of the culture, which means that culture is an engagement multiplier.
Engagement is a leaders number one priority, but when you have the right culture, then that priority is shared with other role models within your organization and you can have a self-engaging organization.
The most powerful culture to boost engagement is one that fosters communication collaboration, and co-operation. People want to be part of a community, with want to be involved in collective success, and collaboration and co-operation help drive this, and good communication ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards to same objectives.
Leadership defines culture, so leaders need to show these traits and when you do it will help them become part of your culture.
Good cultures not only drive engagement, but they also become great advertisements for your teams and can be a get help in recruiting the employees as well as help increase retention.
On the other side, I think everyone can see the impact of toxic cultures, most of us have experienced it at least once and have witnessed the impact it has on engagement, performance and results.
The better the culture, the better the engagement and the better your results will be.
Ah technology! I think this has been an area whose importance often gets overlooked. Technology is often seen as just a cost, and companies look to go with the lowest price devices which is a huge mistake, especially in this unprecedented times of mobile, virtual and flexible workforces.
I might be a little bit older than you might imagine, and I have spent the majority of my career in IT, and was even involved before we had PCs, so I have seen the advancements in IT over the past 30 years.
For the first 20-25 years of that we always had leading edge technologies, we were giving the business tools that were amazing and helped improve their business tremendously.
But over the last 5-10 years that has all changed, and now personal devices the ones that we own and can buy on the high street are often much better than the technology that we are provided with at work.
If I had a swear jar for the number of times I cursed my work PC, network or software tools for being second rate I could probably retire.
This is actually a double-edged sword.
Firstly, in our highly flexible mobile world, many people are not in the office, or are working out of hours and if their tools can’t connect them to the office, then they are being disengaged by technology. If you can’t connect you can’t put in those extra hours, you can’t go that extra mile, and give that extra commitment.
Then there is the second impact. Who wants to work with second rate equipment, who wants to work for a company who’s devices are not as good as the one that your cans are using for games.
Companies that get this right, companies that see value of having connected productive employees not only give them the tools to do their job, but also send a message that they value their employees, and that feeling of being valued will help increase engagement.
When I talk about good culture, I mentioned the importance of collaboration and co-operation, and in a mobile virtual world this is challenged that is solved by technology.
You have to have good collaboration tools, tools that allow people to have access to information, to share documents and to be able to communicate with others. We have generations coming through into the workforce who have done exactly that using tools like facebook, whatsapp, etc., working collaboratively on homework and group projects.
You can’t just rely on email it was great in its day but, my kids don’t even use email it would never occur to them to send it, the world has moved on and you need to have the right technology to attract people, to connect people and to keep them engaged.
And I think we have only just seen the tip of the iceberg here and we are now seeing lots of new apps come out for things like goals setting, feedback and recognition, and of course employee engagement, and this is only going to get better and become a bigger part of the daily working life.
The wrong or poor technology can stifle your teams productivity, which leads to frustration, demotivation, and of course disengagement.
Whereas the right technology will help boost their productivity, improve performance and help push teams into the high engagement category. We all want to be successful and when the technology helps on our way it will help to boost our involvement and commitment.
I never knew how important physical space was until I had to do an office re organization. I can honestly say it was one of the smallest and yet toughest projects I have ever done, and I have led global $100 million programs.
Where people sit, who they sit with, whether they have a window view, or are close to the printers were some of the small issues, which I didn’t really consider, that I had to deal with. It got so bad that it impacted productivity and a couple of people ever threatened to quit.
That was when I realized the impact of our office environment.
One of the challenges is that different people have different needs, some are happy with open social environments, others want a quiet environment where they can concentrate on work, or they need to have some privacy and we need to be able to cater to all these needs.
Creating a productive environment, you need to make sure it has the right ingredients, and this includes:
- Right temperature, if environments are too hot, or too cold it will reduce effectiveness
- Good lighting. Ideally this will include natural light, and if you have any of this flickering strip lighting then they have to go.
- Good ventilation. Fresh air, fresh thoughts.
- Breakout rooms. You need to have rooms where your teams can meet and brainstorm, and you will need a variety of sizes for small and large groups.
- Private areas. You need to have areas where people can have privacy, both for work and personal business
- Quiet areas, these can still be open plan, but where it’s known that the noise level needs to be like a library.
- Refreshment areas where people can get drinks and snack and just chill out, a short break can be just what you need to get you back focused and productive.
- Plants: A little bit of greenery can be calming and help the area feel fresh
Highly engaged teams should be every leaders goals, and your soft skills your leadership skill will go a long way to help, and if you can set up the right culture, give your teams access to the tools and technology to be successful and put them in an environment which helps foster better collaboration and cooperation. Do that then it’s just a short hop from engaged to highly engaged teams, better performance and better results.