• Mark Topley

Six things we can all do to achieve world-class team engagement (Part 2)

Throughout January, I’m taking a look at the fundamental aspects of Employee Engagement. You can read the posts so far here and here.

Engaging your team and keeping them there is crucial to the emotional, financial and operational health of your business. It directly impacts the bottom line, increasing profitability and going you a positive ROI on salaries when your team are engaged.

Today I want to complete an outline of 6 key aspects that you can do to get your team engaged, or improve their level of engagement. 

Encourage creativity and innovation

The evidence is strong – if you give people a level of autonomy to control and affect the way they do their work, they will be significantly more engaged.

Micromanagement kills engagement, as well as restricting people’s development – another key aspect of increasing long service.

Prioritise recognition

For me, recognition is about both performance and behaviour. And it doesn’t (and definitely shouldn’t) always have to be formal. But it does need to be intentional. There are five things I believe are helpful here:

  1. Recognise performance or commercial achievement financially, and publicly – money can be a great reward, particularly for lower paid members of the team. The amount of the reward can be confidential, or linked to a day’s/week’s/month’s pay, but it’s good to celebrate achievement together and create a culture of recognition.

  2. To further strengthen this recognition culture, get the team involved in recognising their colleague’s actions that support your values. If someone goes beyond the call of duty, have their colleagues recommend them for recognition, which can become part of your regular team meetings. 

  3. Beyond the formal team meetings, I used a systematic approach to spontaneity. On a regular basis, I would scan the list of my team’s names and pick out someone who deserved a card, a bunch of flowers or a phone call. I would make sure that over a period of time, I was in touch with everyone and gave them some encouragement about something I had seen them do. 

  4. Words are powerful, and free! It costs you nothing except time and observation to say ’thank you’ or ‘well done’, but it’s amazing how many leaders just don’t do it. Make it a regular part of your day – it feels great, and works wonders for morale. 

  5. Tailor to personalities – in some cases, public recognition can be positive. But for a small number of your team it may be embarrassing and counter-productive. Get to know people and reward them in ways that they will appreciate personally.

Create a positive environment

Toxic work environments, or periods of toxicity are all too common. They lead to stress, attrition, negative productivity and poor service, and in extreme cases can cause you an HR nightmare.

I am a firm believer that as a leader, you will get the workplace environment that you expect and allow. So to avoid or fix issues in this area, I recommend the following:

  1. Create clear expectations of standards and behaviour – see last week’s post.

  2. Be clear to yourself and your team about what you will and will not tolerate – get out in front of gossip and the like by making it clear why you won’t accept it and why it’s a problem for the business and team.

  3. Managing conflict – create and communicate an agreed way of dealing with conflict, and use it. I like Chris Barrow’s PPFC (to which I would add another ‘P’ – position. Get into rapport with the person and ’sit on the same side of the desk’ to reduce defensiveness).

  4. Leading by example – you set the cultural thermostat for your organisation. You will replicate your own behaviour in your team, so pay attention.

  5. Understand people and how we behave -it is well worth investing in training for yourself and your team to understand how and what different types of people behave and think. Increasing yours and your teams level of emotional intelligence is a critical investment. Thankfully there is now an excellent resource available to you in The Confident Dentist, who can lead you through this as well as teaching your team the skills they need to relate better to customers.

Build your team

Relationships aren’t generally built accidentally. Working relationships can be fostered and built significantly through shared purpose and shared experiences.

Whether it’s everyone talking about what a great meal you had last month together, or your (awful) singing at the Christmas party, shared experiences provide cultural and emotional ‘glue’ for the team.

Shared purpose is even more powerful, particularly if involves adversity which was managed well. ‘How we got through that difficult patch/situation’ becomes a part of your joint story. 

You can create these shared purpose, and shared experience situations in various ways, which I’ll come onto next week.

The final blog next week will complete the series on engagement with a look at how Corporate Social Responsibility works as (probably) the best overarching strategy to bring all these aspects of employee engagement together.

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