Each month, "The Balance Sheet" provides questions and answers from experts on a topic that's important to you as a manager. Please feel free to share this information with other colleagues who also manage people.
Q. Engaging employees is important, but I think the missing piece is making sure they know what they are doing, how they will be measured and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. In other words, clarity and purpose. Am I right?
A. Yes. To highlight your point, Jim Moran, professor of Business Administration at Florida State University’s College of Business studied the issue of employees who are kept in the dark about their full purpose, and especially what they were accountable for doing. In his study of 750 workers, both white- and blue-collar, incredibly, less than 20 percent really felt certain they knew what was expected of them each day at work. Employees who are uncertain about their jobs showed 60 percent less trust of leadership. They also experienced 50 percent more frustration overall. They had 40 percent higher workloads. And 33 percent of these employees with ambiguous understandings of their jobs were more likely to look for another job and slack off. Obviously, these issues point to engagement problems.
Q. How can supervisors help employees be happier at work other than through good communication and avoiding micromanaging and other supervisor-related issues that have the potential to impede productivity?
A. Here are a few tips for helping both you and your employees be happier at work: 1) Eat healthier. (Supervisors can make healthy snacks, like fruit, available so employees are able to take advantage of healthy sources of energy in the afternoons.) 2) Exercise more. (Supervisors can model taking the stairs and/or taking walks during the day, reinforcing get-out-and-move-around behaviors.) 3) Give feedback to your supervisor/employer. (Supervisors can create efficient ways of encouraging employees to give feedback — both positive and negative — and then consider changes where appropriate.) Pride, job satisfaction and fun at work stimulate the internal motivation of workers, so always keep in mind what can contribute to helping employees be happier at work.
Q. How can I engage and energize my employees and get them to feel excited about the work we are doing?
A. Energize employees by taking every opportunity to recognize their contributions while urging them to excel. Spend time periodically letting them feel your enthusiasm for the work, the goal, the vision and the ultimate outcome because this positivity is contagious when it’s genuine. Be sure to find your own ways to stay excited and energized because if you can’t feel excitement yourself, it will not be possible to pass it along to them. Remind employees about their past achievements, and get them to understand the underlying reasons they succeeded and did so well. This will offer clues about what keeps them energized. Urge employees to top last year’s achievements. If they feel your energy and genuine concern for them, they will accept your recommendation to do so without rolling their eyes.