How to keep the team engaged
We are used to talking about engagement when we refer to marketing strategies and tactics and mostly in the context of engaged customers being more prone to buying our product. However, there is another, less obvious category of people whose level of engagement directly affects the well being of the company: its employees.
Engaged vs. disengaged
Engaged employees are the best advocates for a company. Not only do they recommend its products or services, but recommend the company as a suitable place to work, thus keeping a door open for valuable potential colleagues.
This also applies in the workplace, where a dedicated team member can be a motivating factor for colleagues, by collaborating, talking about how they enjoy their job, brainstorming creative ways for approaching their duties and, generally, not complaining about the job and the responsibilities, or making excuses when things go awry.
But probably the best argument for an engaged employee has to do with productivity: someone who is connected to the company, who understands the common goal, who has a good relationship with their manager and peers is someone who will take initiative, who will go the extra mile and make sure the project they are working on turns out for the best. Whereas the disengaged employee will settle for doing the bare minimum that is requested of them, sometimes not even that, waiting for the day to be over.
What to do
Probably the first most important thing a manager could do to keep his team members engaged has to do with feedback. Sure, we are talking about the positive type of feedback, where employees are acknowledged and even thanked for their input, showing them that they are valuable to the company. However, constant communication and constructive feedback provide the feeling of being more than just a little wheel in the system, that their work directly affects the company’s results.
Feedback is a source of engagement the other way around too: employees need to have a way of speaking their minds without the fear that they will get into trouble or that their job will be affected by it. Monthly one-on-ones provide the space where team members can approach larger issues, but anonymous surveys will give more confidence to speak up.
Making sure that people are motivated and enjoy their job is another managerial duty, if we are to be working towards an environment that promotes engagement. Checking in on their workload, guidance for difficult tasks, personal growth plans and keeping an open door, all contribute to lower levels of complaining about the job.
In fact, as time consuming as this might sound, in the context of their own list of tasks and responsibilities, managers will very much benefit from engaging with their team members. Be it regular check ins, one-on-ones about current projects, having a coffee break together and generally showing a certain level of interest will create a connection that will keep valuable employees around.
And although this is a somewhat sensitive issue and we wouldn’t like for it to be a factor, added benefits in the form of days off, team building activities, office lunches or the possibility to work remotely do make a difference for employees, each in its own way.
So, there you have it: an increased list of managerial responsibilities, true, but with important returns on the invested time. May your employees be engaged!