Get the results you require
Innovation, achievement of targets, quality improvement, cost reduction, improved execution speed, customer satisfaction—no matter which of these you desire, ultimately your team members are those who will deliver results.
People judge firms based on their employees. Uninterested, demotivated, disengaged staff are brand assassins. They are murdering brand-building efforts every time they interact on behalf of the organisation.
Every touch point with the client is a “moment of truth”, when our company brand is strengthened or diminished. Those touch points have a human element that is susceptible to emotion. How employees feel about their employer is immediately, directly transferred to the outside world in these moments—there is no safety net!
How does your team really feel about the organisation? How do they feel about their immediate supervisor? How do they feel about you as a leader?
We found some scary things in our original global research on engagement. Surprisingly, there was a low correlation between staff members’ engagement levels and degree of satisfaction with their immediate bosses.
Managers would all be happy to hear their teams were “very satisfied”. Leaders might become so confident as to believe their teams are, therefore, “highly engaged”. Discovering that the first does not necessarily lead to the second is a bit of a shock.
Our survey found that, of those who said they were “very satisfied”, only 51% said they were “engaged”. Uh oh!
According to the poll, three factors fuel positive motivation:
• Staff’s relationship with their immediate supervisor
We all know people leave people, not companies! For leaders, people skills really matter.
• Belief in senior leadership and the direction in which they are taking the firm
Do the people at the bottom trust that the people at the top are competent to correctly steer the ship? Do they believe that their foreign managers understand Japan, the market and the customers well enough to make the right calls?
• Pride in the organisation
Will team members speak positively about their employer to family and friends? Do they recommend or whine? Do they identify with the values of the organisation?
Done well, these three drivers boost commitment to the enterprise. The critical point is to what degree staff perceive they are valued by the organisation. If they feel highly valued, they will in turn be highly motivated.
Staff who feel appreciated are inspired to work hard and are confident stepping out of their comfort zones. They also have a sense of empowerment when it comes to innovation, and are enthusiastic to win in the marketplace.
What and who make employees feel valued? Just as we isolate the critical touch points for a client interaction, leaders can do the same thing for their interactions with their teams.
Hard skills are highly regarded, but soft skills are crucial to getting teams engaged and motivated. Leaders’ communication abilities are make or break opportunities to get this right.
The belief that hard skills are enough misses the mark. Often, technical skills are the reason talent is promoted through the ranks, but suddenly leaders lacking soft skills find themselves struggling with their teams.
They fire off orders, mishandle mistakes, fail to delegate, criticise others, condemn and complain, whining “I want a recount on the scores” in the engagement survey. They are murdering motivation among the team.
Here are some suggestions for firing up engagement.
1. Clarify your intention
Stop treating people like assets and build trust instead. Are you really interested in helping them in their careers? Our engagement study found that staff want to know their bosses care about them. Actions definitely speak louder than words, so demonstrate you care.
2. Praise and recognise
Telling team members, “Good Job!” is better than not praising them at all, but this is a very weak attempt at meaningful recognition. Be specific with teams: indicate what was good, how this impacts the organisation and encourage staff to repeat the action.
3. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
We all motivate ourselves based on our perception of how relevant things are to us. Bosses droning on about what they or the organisation want fail the communication test. If leaders know their people and what they want, they can dramatically increase staff’s perception of the relevancy of the company’s direction.
Leaders who believe hard skills are enough don’t get it, don’t know their people and usually just don’t care. This leads to a downward spiral of engagement, low morale and low motivation—not a great formula for positive differentiation in business. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Care, recognise and be relevant!