Employee Engagement: Know Your Employees

I went to a TNS Kantar/Second City Works event several weeks ago. The workshop was titled “What’s So Funny About Employee Engagement?” I thought the program was well done and Brittany Aguilar led the program in a very professional and entertaining way.

These days, anything that pops up on the computer with the words employee engagement gets my attention. This was an opportunity to hear about this challenge and a system designed to survey, develop, and track metrics. The results provide guidance in identifying and then addressing specific areas.

Employee Engagement Tips

Among the handouts provided, I discovered a little gem titled 8 Tips to Engage Your Employees. I’d like to address the first tip TNS Employee Insights recommends.

Tip 1- Get to Know Your Employees. This is something I previously wrote about in An Evolving Workplace.  Essentially, employees who feel their manager views them as a whole person are far more likely to be engaged. TNS posed the statement “My supervisor cares about me.” A favorable response was reflected in 83% of engaged employees versus only 4% of disengaged.

Framework for Knowing Your Employees

Relationships can be deepened by understanding what matters to them. Our Values Aligned Goal Setting© program emphasizes the need for a balanced life as reflected in corresponding goals. If your company is simply dictating a production goal, they are missing a wonderful opportunity to get to know what makes each unique employee tick as an individual.

Consider some employees play a musical instrument, or paint, or volunteer or are involved in a host of other things for which they have a passion. Managers (team leaders) who don’t even attempt to learn these meaningful components in an individual’s life are missing an opportunity. They risk being viewed as interested only in what the employee can do at work and are passing the opportunity to really connect with the person.

Gallup concludes in one study that Millennials want to talk about their aspirations, goals, and ambitions. The best managers figure out what their employees want to become and then figure out how to align personal passions with business objectives. A company that provides employees an opportunity to share about themselves will find that they are creating an opportunity to boost employee engagement.

Speak with Them—Often

However, simply knowing aspects of an employee’s life is just a start. The next step is to have regular conversations replete with feedback, and lots of it. Research on Millennials fully supports this bias. Jan Ferri-Reed of the Key Group states that Millennials want to know where they stand and what they can do right away to improve and advance. Yes, it is time consuming, but highly beneficial

Jennifer Porter in the Harvard Business Review gives advice on providing feedback that helps someone learn and improve. This strategic developmental feedback includes:

  • Big-picture focused
  • Behavioral and specific
  • Factual, not interpretive
  • Both positive and negative
  • Focused on patterns

A manager that understands the link between feedback and employee engagement will see results as the relationship blossoms. Feedback creates the greatest utility when accompanied by active listening. Active listening requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said.

Like most things that bring value, the concept is not complicated, but does require concentrated effort. Employee engagement challenges the skill and creativity of managers. Taking time to really know those for which we have a responsibility is a foundational issue. It is well worth the time invested.


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