The traditional relationship between organisation and employee is not working in the majority of cases, for either the employee or the employer. We need to adapt our approach.
Every customer-focused business wants engaged, enthusiastic employees but a recent survey suggests that many are not.
When the Harvard Business Review recently surveyed business leaders, the results showed that less than a quarter are actively engaged. But those who are, are much more productive, they actively find solutions to work challenges and they have a real sense of belonging in their workplace.
More than a quarter are actively disengaged; there is a disconnect between them and the company and they don’t feel supported. These employees usually take more sick days and frequently talk negatively about the company, its products or services.
The remaining 50%, 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 putting a little more time and effort into this group, you could turn it around.
By actively communicating with these employees, you can begin to help them feel like an integral part of the team. In turn this will reduce employee turnover, increase productivity, improve customer retention and therefore significantly increase profits.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change - Leon C. Megginson
The traditional relationship between organisation and employee is not working in the majority of cases, for either the employee or the employer. We need to adapt our approach. To allow for the organic growth of your teams - policies, protocols and programs may need to be revised. Having a person-to-person approach will result in internal relations being improved.
How can this be achieved? Let’s all take a bird’s eye view of the 3 Cs: communicate – collaborate - celebrate
There is an increasing variety of communication tools available to teams. Many are time-saving like texts, emails and conference calls. These are efficient and easy, though frequently result in miscommunications. Having an ‘old fashioned’ face-to-face chat with someone over a cup of coffee is a wonderful way to connect with colleagues.
In one of my earlier roles, I had a boss Alex, a tall fair haired friendly Scottish chap who always took time out to chat with us individually. He took time to get to know me. We would review progress from the previous week, and look at goals for the coming week.
Alex would always finish by asking; ‘Karen, what do you need from me to reach your goals this week?’ It was great knowing he was offering his support and it encouraged me to give him and the team my best.
Arrange one-on-one ‘conversations’ with your direct reports ideally at the start of the week. Develop an interest in them as a person. You might well be told of persona; challenges they could be facing and for that week, they may not be able to give you 100%. This information will allow you to organise support via 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 will waste less energy and complete projects more quickly. 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.
Do you recall when a colleague or boss listened to your suggestions and took on board your ideas? It’s a great feeling when your recommendations are considered and even implemented.
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 feel included each member has a vested interest in the success of the project and they collaborate.
And Always Celebrate
When we are acknowledged and appreciated, we are more likely to help and co-operate with other team members.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others – Cicero (Roman philosopher)
Many companies do acknowledge and recognise employee achievements at the end of a project or with an ‘employee of the month’ award. But by then the good deed is well forgotten. I would recommend celebrating immediately and frequently. These small moments of thanks occur as informal, real-time exchanges of social praise and feedback, performed by employees and leaders alike.
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.
In thanking a team member, I use the power of three: (1) say thanks, (2) specifically mention what they did that’s praise worthy and (3) explain how it is in line with the company’s vision and goals.
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.
By incorporating the 3 Cs into the way you work you’ll have a strong foundation of communication. This will go hand in hand with a fully engaged team. With people feeling they belong and are recognised as an integral part of the business. By actively encouraging communication with peer and leaders and by celebrating achievements, large and small, everyone will both know and feel that their contribution matters. They will enthusiastically support their team, promote the brand and make your customers happy.
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