January brings the excitement of a new year, when everyone is making resolutions and planning for a successful future. As an extraordinary leader, you can take advantage of this special time of year to boost employee engagement and get things off to a great start! Here are five tips to help you make this year the best one ever in terms of employee engagement!
Tip #1: Communicate! Research tells us that the foundation for genuine employee engagement begins with extensive and effective communication, both vertically and horizontally throughout the organization. Start the year with a communication update to share your organization’s financial performance, upcoming short and long-term goals, and a discussion of how each person plays a key role in reaching those goals. One of my beliefs is: In the absence of information, people will make it up! Instead of worrying about gossip, rumors, and misinformation, take responsibility to actively and frequently communicate with everyone.
Tip #2: Be fair as you lead people. One of the most common pieces of feedback I hear when I do employee focus groups is the charge that their supervisors play favorites. This is also one of the biggest surprises for leaders to hear when I share the focus group results. Remember, it is not so much your intent that is being judged as it is the perceptions you create. Take a step back and be sure you are sharing your time, your wisdom, your humor, and your assignments fairly and equally among your folks.
Tip #3: Develop a Mentoring Mindset. Every day provides hundreds of opportunities to coach, develop, and train your people. Don’t overlook those moments! For example, when an employee asks you how to handle a situation, instead of simply giving them an answer, take a moment and ask them what options they are considering. If you do provide the solution, take time to explain your rationale behind it so they can understand and handle similar situations in the future. Start the year with a commitment to spend quality time with each employee discussing their aspirations, training needs, and areas they want more guidance.
Tip #4: Transform performance appraisal into a daily occurrence. Why wait till an arbitrary date to dump on an employee about things they are doing incorrectly? Make discussions about performance something that occurs naturally and fluidly, through appropriate praise, recognition, feedback, and coaching on-the-go. According to 2016 research shared in Harvard Business Review, more than one-third of U.S. companies are abandoning the annual performance review process, and replacing them with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees. This not only provides immediate feedback that fits into today’s fast-changing corporate culture; it also leads to more meaningful discussions and enhanced employee engagement.
Tip #5: Bring your vision, mission, and values to life! So many organizations have beautifully crafted mission, vision, and values statements that are laminated and hung on the wall — only to die a slow and painful death. No one understands them, remembers them, or cares about them. The secret to powerful, vibrant, and motivating Mission, Vision, and Values statements lies in making them live. At every staff meeting, schedule time on the agenda for people to share one actual example they observed of the Mission, Vision, or Values being put into practice. The more descriptive the better! Transform those words into observable actions, so everyone sees exactly what they mean. Reward employees who are willing to step outside the box to operate by the Mission, Vision, or Values you profess. Encourage each department to create their own “Supporting Mission” to demonstrate how they are bringing meaning to the overall mission. Be sure you are always leading by example, putting the values into practice through your personal leadership style.
Okay — this is just a start! A brand new year is unfolding, and this is the perfect time to reflect on your leadership style and decide what you can do differently to be a more extraordinary leader! And check out our new book: Seriously? 25 Cringe-Worthy Phrases Leaders Use That Rob Them of Their Credibility … and How to Retool Them!