Engaged Employees… How Do We Get Them and Keep Them? – Part I
Gallup research on the State of the American Workplace has found that the top 25% of teams — the best managed — versus the bottom 25% — the worst managed — have almost 50% fewer accidents and have 41% fewer quality defects. Plus, teams in the top 25% incur far less in healthcare costs. “So having too few engaged employees means our workplaces are less safe, employees have more quality defects, and disengagement — which results from terrible managers — is driving up the country’s healthcare costs.”
Gallup research also shows that these “managers from hell” are creating that disengagement through their own poor practices, lack of training, and insufficient knowledge of how to gauge and capitalize upon the strengths of the team they manage. Are all of the people promoted into management positions the right candidates for the job? To answer that question, companies should review their hiring and promoting practices.
Many organizations subscribe to the practice of promoting from within. They see dedicated employees, i.e. super-workers and believe they would naturally be effective supervisors. It would then make sense to seek out super supervisors and promote them to management positions. While this practice can net effective managers some of the time, there are other considerations that deserve some focus. Companies should treat management roles as unique and evaluate the specific requirements of each department. Team members possess individual attributes, skills, and abilities that managers should be enhancing and exploiting. Not all fledgling managers possess that critical eye for the strengths of others. Rather than making management positions a promotional prize for all employees, companies should focus on the best fit based upon the distinct needs of each team. Expecting unprepared managers to support, engage, and empower their team members can set everyone up to fail.
Making managers responsible for employee engagement should be done with focus, understanding, and most importantly, coaching. Leadership should help managers create the right metrics and then coach them on the processes and techniques they can employ to increase employees’ engagement levels. By making a concerted effort to get to know all team members’ strengths, challenging them to exceed their potential, and motivating them to take the necessary steps to improve, managers are creating an environment in which everyone achieves extraordinary results.
Knowing exactly what motivates team members is a critical part of any employee engagement program. Each person has different needs and expectations regarding employee engagement. In our next post, we’ll examine three main factors: tenure, age, and gender.