Remember playing tug of war as a kid? I loved that game. What was cool about it is that tug of war was a team challenge. No one person really stood out as the leader, not even the person in front. Rather, we all contributed mightily to the team. We were empowered and engaged by the atmosphere and our team members. We were out to kick some butt!
Research shows that employees like to kick butt too. In fact, when they are engaged, not only do sales and profits go up, but so do customer loyalty and employee retention.
On the other hand, workers who are disengaged miss more workdays, are under greater stress, and are unmotivated to put forth their best efforts. Plus, they are much more likely to transition into a new job.
So what do leaders do to engage others?
They focus on the individual’s success, as well as business outcomes.
Leaders understand that the organization is made up of the people who will contribute to it’s success. It’s not the chicken or the egg issue. One does come first. And without people, the organization will collapse. Consequently, leaders are willing to invest in their employees, giving them what they need to be successful.
They give praise, recognition, and credit where due.
Smart leaders humble themselves by putting their people in the spotlight and allowing them to shine when they have been a contributing part of the team’s or organization’s efforts. They constantly look for opportunities to make their people winners and to recognize their accomplishments.
They listen and are willing to learn.
Leaders admit that they are not the only experts, and that there will always be others with more knowledge, skill, or influence in certain subject matters. They take the time to ask questions, actively listen, and seek ideas and feedback. They demonstrate there is always much to be learned.
They seek to understand others’ motivations.
Not everyone’s highest priority is a high salary. Some are motivated by flexibility and career and advancement opportunities, others by learning opportunities, praise, recognition, and the chance to work cross-functionally on projects. Leaders engage their people by determining their motivations and then acting on them to drive team and organizational outcomes for success.
They foster trust and loyalty.
A hush-hush environment where nobody knows what’s going on except upper management often breeds mistrust and fear. Leaders, however, share as much information as possible with their teams, because open lines of communication and the sharing of information makes people feel a part of the team, like real insiders. This “we’re all in this together” mentality pushes people to work together and more effectively.
So there you have it: five ways to engage others. While these ideas are relatively simple, they’re not necessarily easy to do. Leaders must regularly ask themselves (and those they lead) whether they are, indeed, engaging their people. Engagement is serious business, because without it, there would be no business.