Employee engagement isn’t something to merely focus on at a year-end conference or even at monthly meetings. Building a motivated and dedicated team takes good managing and staff development on a daily basis. And according to a Dale Carnegie survey of 1,500 employees, only 29 percent are fully engaged. Why? The main reasons given by participants were: sub-par relationships with their immediate supervisors, lack of belief in senior leadership, and absence of pride in the company. Above all, Dale Carnegie trainers say that your goal should be to maintain a positive environment for your team. When things are going well, praise can flow freely in offices. And in uncertain times like the ones we face now, it’s easy to condemn and criticize. What separates great managers from the rest of the pack is the ability to motivate without complaining. Here are 6 ways to do that:
Simply, Say Thank You
Philosopher John Dewey once said that the biggest urge that all humans feel is the “desire to be important.” Therefore, recognizing your employee makes them feel valued–and engaged. “Expressing your gratitude goes a long way to get employees to go the extra mile,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” You might not think it means much, but not saying quick, genuine thank you says a lot more than you realize.
Don’t Forget the Obvious
Dale Carnegie urged leaders to praise even small improvement in people. But don’t forget to praise those who need no improvement at all. “We often focus on solving problems, so we overlook what is going well. Payroll, for example, typically delivers an accurate biweekly paycheck but most employees and managers take that remarkable process for granted,” notes management consultant Michael Carroll, author of “Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands.” Make today the day you walk into payroll (or whichever department might be overlooked at your office) and thank those responsible for their current and past efforts.
Ask for Feedback
Cohen points out that the popular late New York City Mayor Ed Koch built loyalty and goodwill even during tough times in the city’s economy by simply asking people “How am I doing?” “Employees–and citizens–need to know that they are heard,” says Cohen. It’s not easy to invite constructive criticism, but you may learn some valuable information that can help you be an even better manager. At the very least, you’ll show that you’re listening. Another way to show people that your ears are open? Repeat names when you’re speaking to people. Dale Carnegie once said that this is the sweetest sound to any individual. If your employees feel like you’re listening to them and interested in what they are saying, they’ll show the same courtesy to you. Eventually, this give and take of ideas builds engagement.
Walk and Talk in a Casual Setting
To build relationships with your team members, you need to see and hear them–preferably not just in your office, where you are in the power position. “Have brief one-on-one meetings while walking (inside or outside the building) to inspire more brainstorming and creativity,” says Colette Ellis, founder of InStep Consulting. Don’t have time for one-on-ones? “Consider setting up a private social network such as Yammer to keep your finger on the pulse and to inspire internal collaboration and dialogue,” says Ellis. The key is to follow the Dale Carnegie principle of becoming genuinely interested in people and learning about them. Although it may take a little time, money and planning, the rewards of engagement will be priceless to your company.
Encourage Employees to Learn Company History
The new Dale Carnegie survey found that lack of pride in the company can contribute to engagement issues. Of course, company pride is built over time, but sometimes it helps to start at the beginning, by sharing the company history during orientation. Ellis also recommends scavenger hunts [http://www.ehow.com/video_12238350_funny-scavenger-hunt-ideas-adults-office.html] or trivia games for this purpose throughout the year. “Then, at staff meetings and events, include time to reward people who discover known (and obscure) milestone dates/facts about the company and its founders,” says Ellis. These may seem like child’s play, but they can build serious engagement.
If you have one second of free time in your work-day (and who doesn’t?), use it to smile at your employees as you pass them in the hallway. Smiling is one of Dale Carnegie’s simplest ways to make people like you (and hopefully, as a result, feel more connected to you and the work they’re doing under your guidance). Plus, it just feels good! One smile might not engage your entire team, but it could be the first step in the process.