By Karen O’Donnell, Toastmasters International.
Geese flying in a V-formation is the perfect example of team work towards a common goal. In business, we are all on a journey, and when in a supportive environment, our teams have the potential to be actively engaged, adopt the organisation’s vision and purpose, and boost the bottom line.
When you look at your business can you say whether all your staff are actively engaged? Harvard Business Review recently surveyed business leaders, the results showed that less than a quarter are actively engaged.
The engaged employees are productive, have a real sense of belonging in their workplace and actively find solutions to work challenges. More than a quarter actively disengaged. These employees usually take more sick days and frequently talk negatively about the company, its products or services.
The remaining 50 percent, the silent majority, are simply not engaged or disengaged – they are just turning up and blending in. They have no real loyalty to the company. They might be happy enough with their job, however if they got a call from a local recruitment firm, they could easily jump ship.
There’s huge untapped potential here; half your staff, if given the right environment and support, could be actively working towards the goals of the company.
By actively communicating with these employees, you will lay the foundation for them feeling like an integral part of the team and they will be more engaged. In turn this will reduce employee turnover, increase productivity, improve customer retention and therefore significantly increase profits.
To enhance employee engagement let’s all take a bird’s eye view of the 3 Cs to entrepreneurial success: communicate – collaborate – celebrate
Make use of all the technical tools available for team communication and don’t forget the value of face-to-face meetings (or the best approximation if you have dispersed team).
Schedule one-on-one ‘conversations’ with each person who reports directly to you. The start of the week is a good time to do this. Develop an interest in them as a person. You might well be told of challenges they could be facing personally and for that week, they may not be able to give you 100%. Knowing this, you can organise support through the other team members. Showing empathy will be repaid in many ways. You can take this time to review progress from the prior week, and review priorities for the current week.
I do this weekly with teams and always end these meetings with the same question…. What specifically do you need from me this week?
By maintaining this sense of ‘connection’ your team is more likely to expend less energy and complete projects more quickly – just like our feathered friends. This again translates to bottom line financial benefits.
The small amount of time you spend engaging with your team and building rapport and trust, will actually save time by eliminating complications down the road and increasing engagement.
Effective collaboration comes from each team member feeling as though they are an integral part of the success of the organisation.
Develop a corporate culture of listening. Brainstorm with your teams and you will uncover gems – this will ensure a high level of collaboration. When you encourage ‘idea sharing’ within your company, you empower employees to think outside of the box to generate new products and services for your organisation. They are also best equipped to come up with improvements on how they can be more efficient and effective. When teams have a sense of ‘inclusiveness’ each member has a vested interest in the success of the project and they collaborate.
When we are acknowledged and appreciated, we are more likely to help and co-operate with other team members.
Being acknowledged, even with micro-recognition, on a frequent basis triggers our intrinsic motivation and inspires us to work better, harder and more efficiently. This recognition happens “in-the-moment,” as a verbal appreciation of gratitude, and helps employees to draw immediate connections between the noteworthy behaviours they performed and the positive lift they feel from the instant recognition.
When I thank a team member, I use the power of three: (1) say thanks, (2) specifically mention what they did that’s worthy of praise and (3) explain how it is in line with the company’s vision and goals.
Catch team members doing good things and thank them for it. Celebrate even small achievements, Say, ‘thank you’ – two simple words that have an immediate impact. Saying it in front of others will magnify its impact.
Growth and employee engagement go hand in hand. By incorporating these Three Cs with the underlying foundation of communication, you will have a fully engaged team where each employee believes in the direction the organisation is going, they feel they belong and are an integral part of the business. By actively encouraging communication with peer and leaders, and by celebrating, even small achievements, each member will feel their input really matters, they will enthusiastically support fellow team members, assist customers and promote the brand.
For entrepreneurs its important to think in these terms at the start of the business and develop a culture where engaged employees are the norm and the impact on the bottom line is tangible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen O’Donnell is from Toastmasters International a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org