Engaging and mobilizing employees can feel like a daunting challenge. However, we have found that a few simple behaviours can make a huge difference in improving engagement.
It is frustrating to have to read minds.
For instance, many employees are frustrated because they feel like they have to read their manager’s mind. They don’t know how they are doing and how they can do better. The annual performance review is sometimes their only chance to find out, and that event is so stressful and formal that the environment is not conclusive to realizing improvements.
Spans of control contribute to the problem.
This situation is not completely the fault of management. In some organizations, spans of control have become so large that managers have to complete formal reviews every three or four days.
The solutions are simpler than you might think.
There are many simple strategies to engage and mobilize employees. The cost almost nothing to implement, can be put into place immediately and have a huge impact.
For instance, one opportunity that many leaders have — even at the C-level — is to give more frequent, informal feedback about how each employee is doing. That way, everyone in an organization knows what is expected of them and how they can get better.
- What do I expect from you?
- What are you doing well?
- What, if anything, can you be done better?
- What, if anything, do I want you to do better?
- What will happen if you improve (e.g., more responsibility, more time with leadership, more desirable assignments)?
- What will happen if you don’t improve?
- How can I help?
Only ask questions five and six, if appropriate.
While all the above questions are essential, the last one is especially so. It shows the employee that the leader cares and is not merely abdicating responsibility or shifting blame.