When employees are engaged, morale and productivity increase along with higher overall business performance. While most leaders understand the importance of employee engagement, many struggle with how to successfully engage their employees. According to a Gallup study, 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work. This universal lack of employee engagement is a serious concern for businesses. Unengaged employees lack motivation, require more training, contribute to over-hiring, and lead to poor decision-making.
In order to understand why employees aren’t engaged, it’s helpful to recognize and understand universal patterns of group behavior. The Clearing’s Founder, Chris McGoff, identifies these patterns in his book The PRIMES. The PRIMES explains how leaders can use certain tools and techniques to effectively solve workplace problems. In previous posts, we explained how The PRIMES helps leaders manage unanticipated challenges. In this post, we will explain how The PRIMES can be used to increase employee engagement.
Inspire Your Team Through Your Vision
A great vision that elevates the people that hold it is key to creating motivated and engaged employees. We have a PRIME called Ennoblement that highlights the importance an empowering vision has on self-motivation. In order to create a powerful vision, consider the following:
- Ask questions and find a vision that motivates you and your team
- Begin by describing the world you intend to create
- Describe how your team will exist in that world
- Describe how you personally will serve the envisioned world
- Imagine what you and your organization need to make the vision real
Powerful visions provide direction to workers when things are unclear, and they unleash individual creativity and passion for excellence. People don’t become ennobled by building a company for the company’s sake. They become ennobled when they see themselves as an essential part of a company that is up to something big and wonderful for its community and the world.
Leading your team rather than simply managing them is critical to engaging employees. The Leading PRIME states that leading is what you do when you set strategic direction, align resources, inspire action, and are accountable for results.
At The Clearing, we have an axiom we often share with our clients – “Leaders go first, except when it comes to matters of opinion.” The best leaders name and model the behaviors they want the workforce to follow and they empower employees to contribute to decisions that impact the organization. This helps employees feel heard, engaged, and inspired to action. An uninspired employee is likely an unengaged one.
The bottom line? Motivate and inspire your employees by leading them, not managing them.
Invest in Cohesion
In order for employees to be engaged, leaders must work to develop cohesion. Employees who are in cohesion feel aligned to the business and its goals, thus, motivating them to be engaged in their work. Employees are in cohesion when everyone gives the same answers to the following questions:
- “Where are we starting from?”
- “Where are we going?”
- “What do we have to do to get there?”
- “What’s at stake if we fail?”
The most common sign of groups not acting in cohesion are individuals who have misaligned views of their current situation, the urgency of the required change, and how specifically the group will respond.
When these differences prevail, they fragment the group’s focus and dissipate the energy. The COHESION PRIME reminds us that people work on different activities at different intensities and that cohesion requires constant energy to maintain.
As a leader, you should identify areas where coordination and reinvestment in the above questions will help maintain cohesion, and take action to encourage these conversations. For example, if the group does not have a unified understanding of where a project is heading, set aside time to clarify your goals while answering questions from the group. Without proactive investment in cohesion, fragmentation will occur and employees will become unengaged with their work.
There are many more PRIMES that will help you increase employee engagement, but we believe that these three are essential to motivating employees.
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