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”.
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.