BY LOLLY DASKAL President and CEO, Lead From Within
A recent Gallup poll shows something many of us already suspected: people are not terribly enthusiastic about their work.
In a measure of employee engagement–that is, involvement, enthusiasm, and commitment–51 percent were described as “not engaged” while another 17 percent were “actively disengaged.”
If those numbers seem to reflect your team, you probably don’t need me to tell you that you’ve got a big problem.
So what can you do to get your people more engaged at work? A lot of the usual methods–extravagant raises, bonuses, incentive trips–involve huge levels of spending. And even if you had that kind of money, those things still don’t get people excited and engaged in their work.
Why not try one of these novel approaches instead?
1. Empower people through collaboration. Whether you’re talking about work, leadership, or life, the most rewarding experiences are rarely a solo act. Life at its core about collaboration, and part of building a successful team is giving people the opportunity to come together and learn to care about and support each other. When they know that they–and you–are all in together, the scene is set for a culture of active collaboration boosts productivity and engagement.
2. Entrust people with more freedom. People feel secure when they know they can trust and be trusted. Trust gives us freedom, and freedom fosters creativity and innovation. When people don’t have to look over their shoulder or wonder if they’re good enough, they discover the freedom to do what they do and do it well. If you more engagement, establish policies and an atmosphere based on trust.
3. Focus on core values. Our values are our blueprint. They tell us how to be, how to act, how to think. At the bottom line, they tell us what drives us. If you want people who are driven, connect with the values that resonate with them. That doesn’t mean pandering but subordinating people’s feelings to their more enduring principles. A values-based workplace turns employees into advocates.
4. Create a compelling vision together. Success is not a destination but a road that we need to take. Chances are you didn’t go into the work you do with an ultimate goal of increasing third-quarter profits. What helps people excel is creating a compelling vision and working together to make it happen.
5. Find meaning in the work you do. As the old saying goes, the only inheritance we will leave that has eternal value is our influence. There are three fundamental concepts to remember when you’re trying to achieve meaning–hard work, persistence, and common sense. People who have those raw materials and a tie to a greater meaning can truly accomplish great things. And if you and your team can be engaged in what you do, the work will renew your passions, and your passions will fuel your work. It’s the best kind of loop to be stuck in. And it’s all grounded in shared meaning, the most powerful weapon we have.
The bottom line is this; to get people excited about their job– you have to learn what matters to them most, and share with them what matters to you most. Find common ground and establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and caring. Make the connections with and among your team members the most important thing every day in everything you do.