It’s easy to blame employees for not caring, but the truth is employee engagement is all about leadership. (Yes, that means you.) Low employee engagement breeds everything from bad customers service to low productivity and it’s up to you to help break the cycle. Whether you have a formal team or lead many informal teams, you can begin to lead in a different way to help everyone engage. Here are five steps to doing just that.
1. Set crystal clear goals.
What exactly are we trying to do here? Employees have to know what their mission is. Think of Disney, revered for its “guest service.” They aren’t selling a bunch of rides. They’re selling the “Happiest Place on Earth.” And they’re engaging their “cast members” in the goal. Did your kid hurl on the roller coaster? Guess what? The friendly cast member at the souvenir shop probably will offer you a fresh change of clothing. Why? Because Disney’s goal is for you to have a great day, and they are all engaged in their role to make that happen.
2. Create heroes in every role.
Underscoring how important all employees are to the success of your venture is vital. Often we can forget who really makes the most difference in a customer experience. For example, who has the greatest impact on your stay at a hotel? It’s not the manager, even though I love it when they remember I like sparkling water in the room. It’s not the front desk clerk, even though I won’t turn down a room upgrade.
It’s the housekeeper. If they fail that’s what people remember most. Read any property review on Trip Advisor, and I can almost guarantee the guest will mention whether the room was clean or not. Know who your “housekeepers” are and let them know just how critical they are to the experience.
3. Focus on your people’s strengths – not just their weaknesses.
Think you’ll foster improvement by pointing out where your employees fall short? Think again. When Gallup did a study of strengths-based management practices, they found this positive spin created stunning improvements in areas like profit and sales, as well as in employee and customer engagement. There’s a reason great coaches focus on what their athletes are doing well…because it works. Focus on helping your people replicate the best of their performance first to get the results you want.
4. Connect the head and the heart.
Bring your passion to the table so others can follow you. The best way to do this is by developing a team mantra that allows them to emotionally own the goal. When we think of strong leaders, we often think of coaches. Ever watch Friday Night Lights? Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t lose. Coach Eric Taylor connected the head and the heart with his mantra. It can work in business too.
5. “You are the leader you’ve been waiting for.”
We can and should be the leader we’ve been waiting for. Model that for your team and watch their engagement skyrocket.
Take the time to think about how you are leading and how it’s helping your team be engaged. Employees require more of US for them to bring their A game.
Your turn: Who’s the best leader you’ve worked for and why? What are you doing that’s working when it comes to employee engagement?