Employee Engagement is a broad topic, encompassing factors such as reward and recognition, leadership style and culture. Time and again though, research tells us that the number one factor that impacts on employee engagement is leadership. Or more specifically; the ability for leaders to connect with their people in a way that inspires confidence and energy.
Employee engagement is easy to define. Most people can tell us ‘what’ employee engagement is. Many leaders can tell you ‘what’ they should be doing to create engagement, and we know that there are numerous training courses that teach the skills required for managers to be engaging.
So why is it that leadership training in the area of employee engagement often fails to live up to expectation?
The answer is simpler than we may think. Whilst we may have a grasp of the ‘what’, there is still the question of ‘how’ and ‘when’. In other words, traditional employee engagement training initiatives tend to be quite tactical in their approach, but come up short on the strategic element; and this is where the greatest gain is to be had in terms of increasing the engagement levels of your workforce.
There are a couple of steps that will help you enable, and optimise the quality of engaging leadership in your organisation.
1. Implement an Organisational Engagement Strategy
An Organisational Engagement Strategy makes it easy for leaders to engage with their people, and in return, makes it easy for all employees to engage with the organisation and what it stands for. An Organisational Engagement Strategy allows you to see all initiatives at a single glance, ensuring coordination of activity, and that the right activity occurs at the most optimal time – and in synch with other initiatives that may be taking place. It also helps you see how much – or how little – is being done on the engagement front. Importantly it also gets the leadership group on the same page with what is happening across the business, and helps them to see how their behaviours are either reinforcing, or detracting from, the effectiveness of other initiatives.
2. Heighten the Positive Impact of Your Leaders
Knowing the skills of engaging leadership, like how to build rapport or listen actively is only part of the equation. For example, take a Formula 1 racecar driver. Sure he knows what he has to do to get the car around the track; but it is understanding when to use certain techniques, and why, that ensures maximum impact. For the leader, just as it is for the racecar driver, this is as much about understanding the psychology of those around him, as it is timing. Of course, understanding the broader strategy contained in the above point also contributes to this effectiveness.
None of this needs to be difficult and the potential return is great. It’s just a matter of taking the time to be a little more strategic and coordinated with where and how you target your engagement activities, and then helping your leaders to engage in ways that are genuine, timely and inspiring.
Ponte Valle can help your organisation take this next step to engagement maturity and success and can work with you to:
- Assess the effectiveness of your leadership engagement strategy
- Develop an Organisational Engagement Strategy, ensuring strategic alignment between functional, business line, regional and global engagement initiatives
- Enable and foster the growth of engaging leadership styles in your organisation
- Enhance the skills of your HR and OD team so that they can partner with and support your leaders as they make this transition