Five ways to win the battle for the engaged employee
January through March is often the most common time for manager and employee alike to suffer through the trauma of the annual performance appraisal.
Appraisals can have their place – but only if they’re done in the right way. They can be a good way to open a conversation about how an employee feels they’re doing, what they’d like to improve on, and how you can help them step up their performance.
The goal? Yes, better performance management, but also a happy and engaged employee.
Appraisals are dreaded by both sides because of the time they take up, because they’re too formulaic, and because they often descend into a catalogue of the past year’s pent-up resentments. If “difficult” issues are overlooked or still there unchanged from a year ago, what’s the point of the appraisal?
Badly handled performance management – where goals are mismatched or unrealistic, promises are not kept, ambitions are carelessly squashed or expectations savaged – are a sure-fire way to destroy employee engagement and morale.
So how can you capture the hearts and minds of your team so they will willingly, happily even, give you that commitment, passion and extra discretionary effort that can make all the difference?
Here are five ways to win the battle for the engaged employee.
1. Make performance management “a thing”
Make it part of your day-to-day team culture rather than something that’s done once a year and forgotten about. Great performance management is about having weekly, or even daily, conversations that mean something.
Having a specific, ongoing learning and development goal can be one way to help give these conversations a focus and structure.
2. Communicate, explain, and align your business goals
There are always going to be things you can’t tell your team but communicating in the right way, but being open and honest with your employees goes a long way.
If you want to engage your team, it’ll help if they know the context surrounding why you’re saying something, why you have made a decision, or why you’re behaving in a certain way.
This will help to give employees more of a sense of ownership over their role and responsibilities – and, in turn, a greater sense of “buy in” to the organisation.
3. Focus on unlocking their promise – and make sure they can see this
This should, of course, be self-evident. However, too often someone gets hired for a role and that’s it – nothing ever changes and any other talents or ambitions they may have are left to fester.
Focus on developing the talent in your team – delegate, coach, pass on responsibilities, back their ideas, talk to them about goals and aspirations, and show them you have their interests at heart.
4. Look at your own behaviour
The key word here is “authenticity”. Work hard on understanding how your behaviour – what you say and how you say it, even your body language – affects your team, how you listen (or not) to what others are saying, and how emotionally intelligent you are to those around you.
5. Have good conversations
Employee engagement is a “push/pull” process. If you want your employees to give you their engagement and motivation, you have to give something back.
One of the best things you can give back is a great conversational approach. This doesn’t mean constantly distracting them with how witty you are, it means being an open and active listener.
Frame conversations in a way that encourages dialogue, feedback, and a questioning approach. This shows that you are genuinely interested in the insight, experience, knowledge or sheer creative off-the-wall suggestions your team can bring to the table.
Believe us... they’ll notice.