Monthly Archives: September 2015

Keys to Employee Engagement: 5. Caring

We’re currently focusing on four factors that can really motivate people to perform their best.

The fifth question in the Q12 is “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?”

When you work for a large organization with many employees it can be easy to feel insignificant, but most employees want to feel valued by their employers and it’s hard to feel that way when you perceive yourself as just another cog inthe wheel.

There’s nothing more demoralizing than working for a boss who doesn’t seem to consider the feelings of his employees.  You get asked to work extra hours at the worst possible times – like when your daughter has a music recital.  Your boss yells at you when you complain about something, or she chews you out in front of other employees over a tiny mistake. When you have a manager who lacks any sense of caring for their employees, you usually see turnover as employees leave the company to distance themselves from these “managers”Caring and Reassurance.

Something Gallup identified as a success factor in achieving employee engagement was that managers recognized their employees as unique individuals.  Techniques to motivate people would vary from person to person because what might work for one might be ineffective on another employee.

It doesn’t mean a manager has to be friends with his employees.  There is a need for some professional distance between manager and employee. But a manager needs to get to know her people well enough to understand what drives them, to be aware of what’s important to them to be able to tailor development activities or motivational techniques that match the employee’s personality and needs. Asking how a spouse or child is doing, talking about a favorite sport or activity – these are ways of asking open ended questions or having discussions that demonstrate an interest in the employee on the part of the manager.

I usually talk to people about music, pets and sports.  My tastes in music are eclectic, so I find it easy to relate to each individual’s tastes and to talk about bands or composers the employee likes. People are usually passionate about pets, so asking about breed, behaviours and things like that draw people out in a way similar to how mothers talk about their children. With sports, knowing a favorite team or player can serve as a focal point for engaging in conversation with employees.

If knowing your employees as individuals is difficult for you, try this exercise.  Create an Excel worksheet with  the names of your employees in the first column. Head up the other columns with topics like “Spouse”, “Children’s names”, “Favorite baseball team”, “ Favorite music genre”, “Favorite band” etc.  Now go out and talk with your employees so you can gradually fill in all the cells in your worksheet.  If you’re able to add one or two items to the sheet each week for each employee, you’ll make a lot of progress – and watch how your employees respond.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 4. Recognition

We’re working right now on four factors that help motivate people to perform their best.

The fourth question in the Q12 is “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?”

I think ALL employees like to feel their work is appreciated.  That it makes a difference.

Recognition Word CloudThink how you would feel if you thought you were doing a good job and your boss made you feel that that was just what was expected of you and never acknowledged the effort you put into your work.  I think, if all employees hear is criticism, there comes a point at which they tune out and then the best employees decide to leave.

When was the last time you made some positive comments on the work done by one of your subordinates? We tend to hear more criticism than praise.  I read a great quote about this, “Criticism is easy. Anyone can do it. It takes special grace to be an encourager.”

Some people think the way to recognize people’s accomplishments is to give them money.  Certainly, it CAN make sense to use money as a reward for good work, but it’s not the ONLY way.  Sometimes the best way to  recognize someone’s work is through intangibles.

I read a story about a high achiever who received so many plaques and other awards that they had lost their meaning. When it came around to the annual sales meeting, his manager arranged for his family to be present when he was presented with his latest plaque for top performer.  Having his family share in the experience meant more to him than the plaque he received.  His manager was astute to see that the reward system was losing significance for this employee and, by reaching out to the employee’s family, he learned just what was important to this employee.

For my sales teams, I used to go around, shake their hands and say, “Way to go!” whenever one of them landed a new account. In my monthly report (which I shared with my sales personnel), I kept a chart that showed rankings for new account development in dollars and in numbers of accounts developed. There wasn’t a prize for being at the top of the list, but the competitive nature of sales people meant they wanted to be as close to the top of the list as they could.  Maybe it’s not just coincidence that our Division was the most profitable division of 22 business units in our company.

Most people don’t expect to receive a gold star or plaque every day. I think the majority are just hoping to hear someone say something like, “Nice Work!”, “Good Job”, or “I really like how you did that” Giving praise like that, on a regular basis, is not that difficult to do.  If you’re not doing this now, try it for a month to see what kind of response you get.  You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised.