Employee Engagement: Playing your Part

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Organisations that create and maintain high employee engagement are more successful says Sue Mitchell

Which came first the chicken or the egg?  Business performance or employee attitude? A Swiss study measured the organisational commitment (job attitude), financial achievement and customer satisfaction. Over a three year period they found that employee job attitudes more persistently boosted business performance than vice versa.

This isn’t a one-time result.  Repeated studies show that organisations with highly engaged people are more successful.

Here are five tips for creating and maintaining engagement and how assistants can play their part:

1. Leadership style

This includes the way leaders behave and interact with other people and how the organisation and teams are structured. A company’s strategy and way of doing business all shape engagement throughout the organisation.

One of the key drivers for high engagement is frequent high-quality interactions with your immediate manager.  As an assistant you may have managerial responsibility and you are certainly in a position of influence where your interactions matter.

Ways in which you can ensure your interactions are high quality and engaging include: avoiding micromanaging, use a coaching approach, ensuring you understand each person’s motivation, listening to their perspective, and giving them opportunities to design how they will work, rather than telling them how to do it your way.

Be flexible in your style to positively impact others.

2. Provide resources

Organisational structure, strategy and processes need to support people to be effective rather than creating barriers and frustration.  While systems and processes are created with a positive intention to raise standards and efficiencies, and create standardised approaches across multiple business units, remember they were created fit for purpose at a past time.  The world changes rapidly, organisational structures need to adapt. Systems and processes need to remain fit for purpose in order to support people and give them the resources they need to succeed.

Play your part to help set up and support ways to listen to front line employees for ideas on how to streamline, improve efficiency and effectiveness, align with company purpose and values, and reduce frustrations.  Some organisations are finding it more effective to align certain processes around guiding principles and entrust employees to make their own decisions, with the power to act within clearly defined parameters.

Make it easy for people to achieve by providing the resources they need.

3. Provide development opportunities

As well as external resources, employees need personal development.  Support training and coaching for confidence, resilience and emotional intelligence, as well as technical and leadership skills, to help people’s desired career progression.

Take advantage of all training opportunities yourself and encourage others to participate.

4. Work to strengths

Many people don’t recognise their own strengths. Your strengths are the things you enjoy doing that come naturally, bring you energy, and that you would choose to do.  Anything you are good at but you wouldn’t choose to do, or that drains your energy, is not a strength.  Building on strengths is far more productive than trying to fix weaknesses.

Use feedback, psychometrics etc to help you understand your own strengths and encourage others to do the same.

5. Create meaningful work

Organisations need a clear, shared vision, a purpose and mission formed around core values, and to set high standards. Translate these to daily behaviours and activities.  Walk the talk yourself and nudge your boss if necessary! Especially important is for each person to know how their role fits and contributes to the company vision, so it feels meaningful to them personally.  Each person needs to believe in what the company stands for if they are to feel proud to be a part of it, and become brand ambassadors.

Lead the way as an ambassador!

If leaders in your organisation want to raise performance and have more customers who love you, they need to invest in training and coaching so leaders and managers at all levels know how to engage their people.

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About Author

Dr Sue Mitchell

Dr Sue Mitchell is the author of The Authority Guide to Engaging your People, published by SRABooks (www.authorityguides.co.uk).

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