The secret ingredient for engaged staff

Social Media Intro: The key to having engaged employees is actually quite simple. Find out what it is and how to bring it into your team to boost performance.

Having staff that are actively engaged is critical to nurturing a high performing team. Simply put, you can’t achieve a high performing team without first creating an environment whereby employees are actively engaged in the shared goals of the organization. As leaders, it is not enough to aim for satisfied employees, we need to work to develop a culture that makes it easy for our staff to choose to be actively engaged. The attitude and willingness of engaged employees far outweigh that of employees who are simply satisfied with their jobs. Job satisfaction implies a transactional exchange, whereas to be engaged implies that staff are willing to go above and beyond the transactional exchange and to bring their hearts and minds into their jobs. A win-win for everyone in the organisation and of course the ultimate culture for the organisation’s success.

If you are a manager, you most likely already know all of this. Most of the companies I have worked with have loads of strategies in place to actively boost employee engagement from regular team meetings, employee surveys, team building days out, regular social get-togethers and rewards schemes… but often the most effective way to increase engagement is overlooked; everyday, open lines of two-way communication.

Harnessing the art of conversation is key to effective communication

One of the best ways to foster a culture of active communication, is to encourage conversation amongst you and your team. With regular structured and unstructured conversation happening, the people in your team will be getting the human connection necessary for engagement to flourish.

Conversation is different to structured meetings; when a conversation starts in an impromptu situation discussing non-business issues first, the relationship is strengthened and creativity can naturally spark. It brings down barriers, builds trust and makes people feel connected on a deeper level. All essential ingredients to building engaged staff.

The conversations you have with your staff, collectively and one-on-one can have one of the following purposes;

  1. To build relationships and trust with and amongst team members
  2. To set and reinforce direction and connect to purpose, keeping everyone focused on outcomes and the big picture
  3. To determine and reinforce accountability and responsibility through work in progress conversations
  4. To get honest feedback, provide coaching and counselling
  5. To prepare for the future

Think about the communication and conversation you have had with your team lately? Do you regularly make time to have conversations with your team in the corridor, in the carpark, the canteen, via email or social media, do you grab a coffee with a colleague ad-hoc, have an open-door policy where your staff know they can come in to chat without sending a meeting request? If there’s room for improvement, try doing more of these things to create a culture where informal conversation happens naturally, and watch as your staff become more engaged through this simple but impactful unstructured communication.

Being busy is no excuse to stop the conversation

If you have a ‘busy’ workplace, or even busy periods, which limits everyone’s ability to have regular informal chats, you can still keep the conversation flowing. Consider sending an email or text simply to check-in with your staff individually. You could also set up an intranet or social media group to post updates, comments on work in progress to keep your team feeling connected and part of the big picture. Several companies I have worked with have set up informal feedback sessions with senior managers randomly selecting and meeting with a small number of employees over lunch or morning tea to chat and touch base, giving staff the chance to be heard and share their ideas in an informal setting.

In busy times it’s also crucial not to neglect more structed meetings and one-on-one catch ups, which can often get pushed to the side to get the ‘actual work’ done. But engagement can quickly turn to disengagement by neglecting these important opportunities, so consistency is vital.

A conversational culture has a ripple effect; if managers are seen to instigate conversation more frequently, it will be an open door to your team conversing with one another more effectively which will lead to active engagement and a stronger team. Don’t lose sight of the significance of conversation and ensure your organization is set up to support and encourage it. Conversation is the key to open communication, which in turn fosters engagement and is the pre-cursor to performance.

If you would like Rod to help you develop a culture where conversation is the norm, please get in touch today.

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