Six things we can all do to achieve world-class team engagement (Part 1)

Last week we took a look at Employee Engagement in this post.

It’s crucial to engage your team for the emotional, financial and operational health of your business. It directly impacts the bottom line, increases profitability and gives you a positive ROI on your salary budget investment.

Today I want to give you the first in a set of 6 key things you can do to get your team engaged, or improve their level of engagement. I’ve seen these work time and again.

Hire right to start with

For a big chunk of my career, I led an international charity and lived in East Africa. We also had a base in the UK with a small team here.

One consistent lesson that I learned in both cultures is that you can train skills, but it’s incredibly hard to teach people values. So we hired for aptitude and cultural ‘fit’ rather than accomplishments on the CV.

And it paid off. The well qualified ‘stars’ we hired almost always left very quickly or caused huge problems because of their base attitude towards the shared values and culture of the organisation.

Clearly communicate, and regularly repeat, your vision, values and purpose.

One of the most successful American Football coaches in history is Lou Holtz. Holtz was used to bringing the stars onto his teams. The kids who had been good enough to get football scholarships to the top US Colleges.

To get these stars to become ‘We’ people rather than ‘Me’ people was an art form which Holtz did successfully over decades. His secret? Each new recruit was told at the beginning – ‘we want you here, we like you and will do everything we can to help you succeed and achieve your dreams (of joining the NFL). But remember – you are joining us, we aren’t joining you.’

‘You join us, we don’t join you’

Lou Holtz

Foundational principle – make it clear to new people, and your existing team, what the vision of the business is, what is important to you (and therefore what behaviours are expected), and help them see how they are part of the larger story and purpose that your business exists for.

As a CEO, I had a structure to make sure this happened, and it’s so important to do the work on getting your vision, values and purpose clear.

Make your expectations clear

How many times have you asked a team member to do something, and what you ended up with was totally different to what you expected? It’s a common problem, but the responsibility for the communication failure is yours as the leader and yours alone.

Whether it’s a small one off task, or the overall responsibilities and achievements you expect from a senior member of your team, you have to be clear on what success looks like.

When people understand the goal they are expected to achieve and the targets they are expected to hit, they tend to do very well at getting there. It’s also very important that you regularly and clearly let people know how they are doing against achieving your aims for their role. Performance feedback should be regular and consistent. You should not be waiting until the annual appraisal before ambushing them with their results, or lack of.

These three elements are the foundations for successful engagement:

  1. Get the right people in the first place
  2. Make sure everyone understands the destination, the roadmap, and the way we will all behave on the way
  3. Ensure everyone knows their part in achieving the overall goal, and how they are doing on a regular basis

Next week’s blog will look at the final three things you can do to build and maintain your team engagement.

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