Our last employee engagement blog post debunked three commonly held myths. As promised, the second in the series looks at a leader’s role. Leadership behaviour can be one of the key drivers of engagement – when leaders get it right, it can have a motivating effect on staff, spurring them on to greater levels of productivity and alignment with company goals. People look to their bosses to be an example, upholding a firm’s values, providing a clear vision of the future and setting the tone for the energy put into work.
There’s a lot a leader needs to take care of besides employee engagement – they tend to be results focussed, numbers driven people. But the human side of the equation doesn’t require a huge input in terms of time or training – it’s more about a conscious approach to how behaviour affects others.
And this doesn’t apply to CEO’s and MDs only. These are simple principles worth considering if you’re a people leader of any level, or if you have aspirations to be one. In this short blog we’ve collated some of the key things to think about if you want a simple checklist against which you can assess your own engagement abilities.
- Talk about it – One of the simplest ways to show you care about engagement is to talk about it, whether that’s in response to a survey, asking for feedback from your people or being involved in HR’s efforts to improve engagement. By getting behind it you show that the business takes engagement seriously, and acts as an inspiration to others – helping bring motivation to the forefront of people’s minds.
- Be visible – visibility is something that is spoken about time and time again when it comes to engagement research. A brilliant quote from a focus group that really stands out is ‘visibility doesn’t mean building a glass office’ – being ‘seen’ by staff isn’t exactly the point. What’s important is to visibly listen to staff, offer them the chance to interact and ask questions, and deal with any issues head on.
- Walk the talk – all firms should have a set of values that are articulated throughout the business. They are the principles behind the behaviours that should be consistent across the company – the most engaged firms are those in which everyone is clear on how they should act and are enabled to do so. Someone should be able to tell what a firm’s values are by watching what its leaders do. Setting an example is especially important – when a leader doesn’t live and breathe the values the effects can be catastrophic – how are others supposed to know how they should behave?
- Celebrate success – this is a key role for a leader of any level. Celebrating business success is part of this – but think about it in terms of telling a story. Who is the audience? Will they relate to the profit figures you’re excited about? Talk about success in terms that allow people to understand what the positive impact is on their role or part of the operation. Also celebrate human success – staff members that have achieved qualifications for example – things outside of the pure financials.
- Be visionary – perhaps one of the most critical behaviours displayed by great leaders. Research has found that a visionary leadership style can help make people feel confident about the future, committed to the cause and excited to be part of things – helping increase the energy people are willing to put in. This involves articulating the ‘why’ behind the company – what the purpose is of its existence, and how everyone is playing a part in helping realise it. And remember, people usually need a vision beyond profit – they want to know how their skill set and ambition fits into the company’s core mission – the real reason they come to work.