All of us want our people to say ‘I love my job!’ But unfortunately that doesn’t come easy. It comes with a lot of hard work and an investment of time, energy and emotions. For many organizations and managers, this does seem like a futile endeavor and not really an investment. For them, ensuring that certain hygiene factors are in place is enough effort for their teams. In spite of research telling us otherwise, many organizations have administrative Human Resources teams, whose purview lies simply in the area of logistics.
In some other organizations, while the intention is to make employees feel valued and cared for, engagement is not the priority of the organization or the Human Resources. Some others have individuals simply looking after team members, making sure they are performing to their highest potential and ensuring that they are always learning and growing.
In spite of the inconsistency in the industry around this factor, there is a growing realization that there is much that can be achieved if only there is a slight focus on engagement. This, in fact, can go a long way in ensuring that people are retained and that they feel genuine care from the organization.
While the depth of engagement definitely takes time and effort, there is one strategy that an organization or manager can constantly keep in mind when building engagement and that is open and honest communication. Here is why:
Beginning with the buy-in: While the leadership will eventually take the step that is good for the wellbeing and future of the organization when making major decisions, it is important to keep the people in mind because this decision is going to impact them in a significant way. What is also important is the buy-in from people when you want them to act on that decision. One way to be able to do this is through constant communication. Keeping communication crisp when it is needed while taking the effort to keep it long and detailed when an explanation is required, it is important to target your communication based on the need of the hour. But if your people are not involved in the decision, they are not always likely to participate or take it forward willingly, and without them your goals are unachievable. One way you can communicate is by seeking to understand. Ask your team members about their views on certain aspects of your business and make sure that they genuinely feel heard. They will know that they have been heard out and are unlikely to misunderstand your intentions. They will also feel valued because time has been spent just listening to them. Finally, they will be in the loop about what is being done for people in the organization.
Building credibility: An important way one can build credibility is by constantly communicating. It helps greatly when building trust as well as for your people to always be confident that you are making decisions with their best interests in mind. Sticking to what you said you would do and communicating that is important if one wants to come across as credible.
And while all of that is perhaps easier said than done, here are some simple ways you could do it:
Understanding your audience: When communicating, it is essential to understanding our audience. What do they want to hear from you? How often do they want to hear from you? And why do they even want to hear from you? Asking yourself or even your team members these questions can help you answer them and design your communication to address their needs.
Clarity: People are likely to feel engaged by what you are saying when you are saying it with a lot of clarity. It is a sign that you are absolutely clear about what you want to achieve and that clarity trickles down to the people on your team or in your organization. It builds confidence and trust and removes the possibility if any doubts of confusion that they might have. They want to be able to know that they can trust you and need that level of security from you and their job and this clarity takes them down that road. Keep communication crisp and precise when giving updates or when running project with a tight timeline. However keep it appropriately lengthy when explaining major decisions or sharing reflections. Nothing should take your team members by surprise.
Continuous: More than everything else, this communication should be continuous. Decide regular intervals by which you want to communicate progress or new ideas and projects. It will keep them engaged, and if you’ve hit the right cord with the above, your team members will expect constant communication. It also helps people know what is being done for them and about them and they thoroughly value transparency and honesty in these conversations. It also displays care – a message that irrespective of how busy you are, you have still been able to make a few minutes for your team members and to communicate to them.
Therefore while a full-time focus on engagement might take away from other priorities, one can simply focus on communication to take them places along the engagement ladder.