Every manager would like to engage their team and have employees who are excited and enthusiastic about their work, feel connected to the company’s purpose and feel like they are making a difference. The question is how can managers achieve this simple but not easy goal. The trouble is that most managers are not given the training to develop and engage their team.
Employees can either be engaged (34%), not engaged at approximately 50% (people work for a paycheck rather than because they love what they do and lack any emotional connection to the company) and actively disengaged with levels at approximately 16% (people who don’t like what they do, dislike their manager and company and make this opinion known causing a negative impact). It’s not that managers don’t want to be amazing in their role, but they often don’t have the tools to do this.
Gallup has studied engagement levels at work for many years and currently is approximately 34%. This means that on a team of 10 people, only 3-4 people are engaged and actually like their job. The other 6-7 people are either not engaged or highly disengaged. Managers account for 70% of team engagement and play a critical part in the overall success of the team. Managers are like the quarterback of a football team. They call the plays, set the tone and influence the entire team with their confidence, energy, fears and mindset. So managers need to be aware of the energy and belief system they are contributing to the team.
Here are four tips managers can use to engage and develop their team:
1. Know the strengths of each person on your team
It’s essential to know what each person on your team does well and how they uniquely contribute. When people use their strengths they are 6x more likely to be engaged in their work, per Gallup. When managers focus on employee’s strengths, active disengagement with employees falls to just 1% and the level of engaged employees rises to 61% (as opposed to 45% if the manager focuses on weaknesses), per Gallup. A strengths approach is empowering and helps employees naturally focus on ways to manage conflict, share their voice, communicate, build relationships, execute, influence, think strategically and build trust using what they do well (aka their strengths). You can learn more about your strengths via this assessment (CliftonStrengths).
2. Ask better questions
Tony Robbins says the quality of your questions determines the quality of your relationships. Every manager needs to ask more effective questions that focus on the key issues and let their team know he/she cares. A few great questions to ask each person on the team include: are you clear on what success looks like in your role (only 50% answer yes to this question), what are you excited about in your role and what gives you the greatest satisfaction, what would you like to do more of this year and what one action step can I take to help you be more successful? Managers also need to ask better questions to understand issues from all perspectives and resolve conflicts in a timely manner to reduce any team drama.
Most of my clients think they listen but their direct reports often have a different opinion. Listening means more than being present for a conversation. It means listening to what someone is saying and having them feel heard. This includes not interrupting or finishing a sentence even if you think you know the answer. It also includes putting your phone down and looking up from the computer and just focusing on your employee. It can be helpful to paraphrase back the key takeaways so the person knows you understand and hear their concerns. Listening is challenging and takes effort but this simple practice helps you connect with your team on an authentic and powerful level.
4. Recognize the people on your team
All people want to feel that they matter and recognition is the perfect answer. Managers need to understand that people are unique and therefore may want to be recognized in different ways from a congratulatory personal email to lunch to a group team email to a simple thank you. Often, managers mistake negative feedback for recognition. They are not the same. Per Gallup research, only 40% of employees on a global basic feel they have been recognized in their work in the last 7 days. Recognition is a great way for managers to let their team know they care about them.
Managers play several roles in a company including being individual contributors, developing each person on their team and being responsible to motivate the team to achieve performance goals. Engagement and success levels increase when managers consistently recognize people on their team, listen to the needs and concerns of each person, ask better questions to solve conflicts and help people understand and use their strengths to achieve their goals.
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Brookfield Property Partners, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Dress for Success. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook