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You’re in a management position because you know your stuff. You’re good, profitable, efficient, respected. But are you benefiting from having employees that are self-driven or can you actually take a little of the credit for their success? Do you have their trust? Would they run through a brick wall for you…or would they just rather run you over in the parking lot?
Employee engagement should always be the goal of management, not just numbers. Engagement drives creativity, not just pressure and hard deadlines. Engaging everyone we’re responsible for begets long-term success and sustainability, not just flashes in the pan and some quick wins. It’s those numbers and those flashes, however; that get our attention. Those top performers make us look good and competent, while low performers take up all of the training and development time.
When we’re asked in a staff meeting what our wins for the week are, we easily spout out examples of interactions with our outgoing, vibrant, sometimes needy employees. What we fail to do is mention, or even think about, those that are less boisterous. We forget those that seem content with just being normal and solid. The employees that don’t cause commotion and don’t constantly demand our attention are the ones that are often overlooked and under-appreciated.
Because the problem employees and the superstars do take up so much of our energy, overly deliberate efforts in reaching the other employees must be made. It’s not natural to engage the average, yet it’s that group of employees in that middle ground that hold the future of our organizations in their hands.
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Try this exercise. Ask one of your leaders “What have you accomplished today?” and they’ll probably spill off item after item of interactions with their stars. Then ask them:
- Who HAVEN’T you encouraged today?
- Who HAVEN’T you spoken to or checked up on today?
- Who HAVEN’T you empowered this week?
- Who’s opinions HAVEN’T you solicited this week?
- What HAVEN’T you tried today or this week to help teach or support the team.
Watch the bewilderment on their face. They’ll think it’s a trick question, a set up, or that they’ve forgotten something. By forcing ourselves to remember who we haven’t engaged, we create an urgency to reach those that fall through the cracks. We remind ourselves that it’s necessary to get out of our routine and comfort zone and build up those that don’t naturally catch our attention. It’s when these employees feel appreciated and noticed, that productivity spikes and pride grows from the middle, creating a core of excellence that will last.
Engagement does not just happen and it doesn’t occur by accident. There’s no app to track one’s progress or to remind leaders to acknowledge their people. The connections must be intentional for them to become habits, and when the act of connecting becomes a habit so to do the successes of the multitude of those that you lead.