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Allowing Teams to be Engaged

HR Review July 2012

It is now well established of the benefits that having a workforce of engaged and committed people can bring to organisations. Such people perform better, they are less likely to leave and they are more likely to promote the organisation with their family and friends. In short, if you want to be successful, then the business needs to get their workforce teams engaged.

But the question now is not whether employee engagement is important but how to achieve it-especially at a time when large groups of employees may feel disenchanted and dis-engaged. Now there is no denying that trying to engage people is not necessarily easy, but there are a variety of proven techniques which if you can adopt (or adapt), will go a long way to having that passionate and committed workforce that is an essential pre-requisite of a successful organisation.

I think that there are five main areas that need to be addressed if you are to be successful:

Allow people to be involved in decision making

This is a tough one, especially for those managers not used to consulting (rather than informing) their teams. For people to feel that they are a genuine stakeholder in the business they need to be involved when for example changes are being proposed such as reorganisations or downsizing etc. It is the staff who operate the organisations systems and processes and they can very often provide an insight into the most effective way to organise or run a service

Encourage people to voice their views and opinions

Employees can often feel ‘lost’ in an organisation and that they are just a clog in a mighty wheel, where their views do not count or, even worse, are not wanted. Any successful organisation needs to view its employees as partners in the business and feedback on the challenges that you are facing is critical to getting the temperature of the workforce and to understand what changes might be needed. Views can be encouraged and articulated in a variety of ways from online and real forums to regular team briefings where those all important voices can be heard

Managers to listen to these views

It is one thing to encourage opinions but it is another thing for managers and boards to genuinely listen to those voices. Yes, people want opportunities to express their views but they also want them to be heard with an open mind. Quite often, organisations have already decided what they are going to do when they consult with their staff and the consultation not being genuine. For the relationship to be two way, managers need to keep an open mind that their proposal may in fact not be the most effective one- this doesn’t mean that management stops managing, rather it allows them to understand the impact proposals may make before deciding what to do.

People to feel well informed about changes at work

Employees feel committed to their organisations when they feel involved in changes even if they may not agree with them. If you can tell your teams what is going to happen before it happens, then they are more likely to feel that they are important to the business. Nothing is worse for team morale then people not knowing what is going on and how changes at work might affect them. Usually it is the fear of what changes might mean that concern staff and these need to be addressed. It may be that managers have no control over those changes themselves if it is board level decision handed down to them to enact but by telling people what you know as soon as possible and what it might mean for them creates a level of trust that can allow real goodwill as well as cement engagement.

People to feel appreciated

This is perhaps an obvious one but it is surprising how many managers just expect their teams of people to fulfil their tasks with little or no appreciation or reward. People at work, like at home, need to feel wanted and appreciated. That appreciation can take a variety of forms. The obvious one is of monetary gain in terms of performance related pay or bonuses, but in the current financial climate that is not always possible or even desirable. A wealth of evidence suggest that what is more important is for managers to give praise through a ‘Thank You’, which can be verbal or in writing, or a minor gift but however you do it, the impact on people when they are thanked for a job well done should not be under estimated.

Author: Bryan Matthew

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