Employee engagement is essential
Business success relies on concerted effort and the smooth operation of multiple moving parts, most importantly, competent people, from leaders to shop floor personnel. The importance of teamwork is at no time more evident than when a company embarks on improvement projects or new initiatives. A lack of unity or half-hearted participation can doom the most well-intentioned plans and perhaps trigger a cycle of failure. The factors behind disengagement–poor communication, frustration, insufficient resources, demotivating experiences–can infect the entire organisation if left unattended.
10 steps to engagement
Motivating and mobilising your workforce isn’t a mystery and doesn’t require recourse to magic. Taking it step by step is all that’s necessary.
1. Start with a clear vision: Before attempting to rally the rank and file, leaders need to be specific about where they are going and why. What does the “after” picture look like? What is the larger context, in terms of the competition, the market, future trends? The ultimate goal must be crystal clear.
2. Make a case for change: Communicate the reasons behind the new measures and modifications. Educate people about the status quo, why change is necessary and what the future looks like.
3. Highlight the benefits: Point out how individuals will benefit once your vision has become reality. How will working conditions improve? Let people know what’s in it for them.
4. Establish a timetable: Without a defined endpoint, when will you know it’s time to declare victory? Including intermediate checkpoints will keep everyone focused along the way.
5. Stock your toolbox: Reflect on how you’ll implement your plan. How will you get from here to there, and what will you need? Training? New processes? Structural change? Make sure you have access to the resources you need.
6. Measure progress: Choose an appropriate method, an objective way to quantify achievement and share the results regularly. Reinforcement and reminders keep the goal present for everyone.
7. Provide feedback: Let your team know what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. Encourage feedback to flow both ways so that everyone’s voice is heard.
8. Reflect on resources: Confirm that staff have the support they need and don’t be afraid to redistribute or rethink allocations.
9. Monitor and adjust: To keep your project on track you’ll need to check progress continually and make the necessary adjustments. You’ll gain more respect for making changes as the need arises than for stubbornly adhering to a plan that ignores altered circumstances.
10. Celebrate! And not only when you’ve reached your final goal. Acknowledging successes along the way helps sustain energy and enthusiasm.
Work the steps to stay on track
When implementing this path to securing employee support, be aware that skipping a step can be enough to derail your efforts. Even with a clear vision, healthy communication and abundant resources, a failure to set a realistic timeframe with a definite endpoint can erode engagement over time. If you consult experts to advise your team but don’t provide the resources to carry out their recommendations, people may lose faith in the process. Be on the lookout as well for potential bottlenecks or communication breakdowns, especially if your company’s structure means that leadership’s vision depends on branch managers’ willingness to provide resources. Have you made sure that everyone in the chain of command understands that they have something to gain from the project’s success? Hopefully these guidelines will prove useful as you and your company embark on your next big project, innovation or transformative plan.