How to Build a Highly Engaged Workforce
Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. But I sometimes wonder if business owners and managers are losing sight of this. You are often so caught up in the day to day running of the business that perhaps you forget just exactly what your business objectives are all about.
The only way you are going to achieve more customers, more sales and more profits, is with highly engaged workers. And I don’t just mean those people in sales and customer service; everyone has a role to play. Admin staff, manufacturing, technical services, accounts, delivery – everyone in the organisation.
Gallup defines a highly engaged worker as one who has “heightened emotional connection” with his or her organisation, leading to greater effort in getting the job done.
The only way to develop that emotional connection is for the line manager to communicate with each worker on a human level as well as a business level.
Business level communication is all about what needs to be done and who needs to do it. It’s about solving problems, and giving feedback both positive and negative.
Let me give you a personal example of human level communication. I once worked for a manager who was excellent at this.
Stuart was the Director of Sales and I was a Regional Manager with six Sales Engineers. Stuart was my boss, he was located about four hundred miles from me so I didn’t see him too often.
However we did have regular contact by phone. He would always open any call on the human level. He would come on the phone with something like – ‘Hi Alan, I trust you’re well.’ He then might say – ‘How’s Elizabeth, did she get that new job she went after?’
Stuart always seemed to remember these things. We would then have a short conversation about that and then he’d get down to business. Sometimes the business bit wasn’t always something I wanted to hear. ‘Your sales figures are slipping Alan, what are you doing about it?’ Or – ‘Your team’s reporting is not up to scratch; I want you to do something about it.’
Stuart was no soft touch and his approach was never “touchy-feely”. However I always felt that Stuart cared about me as an individual and I would always work well for Stuart. I was highly engaged!
Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that every time you speak with a member of your team that you launch into some personal discussion. Opening on a human level can take only a couple of words. And before I give you some examples – you have to be genuine!
Your team will know whether you mean something or not. I think most of us are aware of the importance of tone of voice and body language when we communicate.
So if you say something on the human level to one of your team, make sure you mean it or don’t bother saying it. Just in case you’re struggling, here are some things you could say.
- What did you think of Florida?
- How did the children (and use their names) enjoy Disney
- I thought your team played really well last night
- I like that tie
- That’s a really smart suit
- You’re looking well
- I like your new glasses
Bring up things you’ve remembered, ‘Did Dave pass his college exams?’ or ‘How’s your husbands (use his name) new job?’
Many line managers avoid human level communication. They see it either as a waste of time, think it’s all too “touchy-feely”, or just don’t know what to say.
I keep coming back to that Gallup report. If you want highly engaged workers, who find more customers, generate more sales and profits, then you need to make that emotional connection.
Posted in: Leadership, Management, Motivation