It’s a new year and most organisations have set their annual goals and divisions have cascaded down the goals. Over the years, line managers have become more aware how to create engaging goals for their team. At the same time, employees have become more outspoken about wanting meaningful projects and aligning roles with their values.
As we’re seeing changes to goal setting and performance management, employee engagement still doesn’t seem to be included in this process. In general, employee engagement seems to be a hard nut to crack. This comes despite popular surveys like Gallup’s State of the Workforce having outlined the link between the manager-employee relationship and the employee’s engagement, which in return results in increased productivity, commitment, sales and revenue.
In recent years, companies focused on training line managers to give feedback in real time. This would be given when they see their employees performing outstanding work or when their work makes an impression. The 4-part-feedback model by MIT has been used as a helpful guide for line managers:
- Context: Describing the situation, being as specific as possible and giving it in a timely way
- Behaviour: Describing the behaviour as clearly as possible and without drawing conclusions
- Impact: Describing the results – positive or negative – of this behaviour while being constructive
- Next steps: Describing what specific behaviour should be changed or repeated in response to the feedback and why.
Line managers would highlight areas for improvement. At the same time, they have been asked to focus on enhancing an employee’s strengths. After all, it’s more effective and motivating to concentrate on expanding an employee’s talents.
Just we seemed to have grasped the desire and need for timely feedback, there’s a new challenge.
“Dying for attention”
In 2019, Workhuman discovered the need for line managers to:
- Show more appreciation (31 percent)
- Focus more on employee career growth (19 percent)
- Give an employee more independence (15 percent)
- Focus more on an employee’s learning and development (14 percent)
- Have more frequent 1:1s and check-ins (8 percent)
In addition to these, Jason Averbook highlights an overall “dying for attention” challenge.
“We live in a world where we post things on Instagram and Facebook – we live in this concept of an ‘attention economy’ – yet many employers don’t have effective strategies to give their workforces attention. What they get is feedback, but employees don’t want feedback, they want attention.”
Become more attentive
Researcher Marcus Buckingham warns that feedback, although warranted to correct harmful mistakes, is not the best method for helping an employee excel or engage. This year, organisations, leaders and line managers need to be more in tune with their employees and pay more attention to them.
Employees who feel being heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform to the best of their abilities. To benefit from such increases in productivity, creativity and engagement, line managers can:
- Provide a true open door policy to make employees comfortable to approach their manager
- Spend more 1-1 time with employees
- Practice active listening when meeting
- Observe non-verbal cues
- Act on expressed concerns, including outlining why certain approaches will not be taken
- Be a coach who shows a genuine desire to help their employees develop
- Put in place learning and development plans for employees
- Take a sincere interest in the employee as a person.
Companies have now an opportunity to apply a mixture of leadership tools, coaching techniques and motivation to pay attention to their employees, deepen the commitment to their employees and strengthen their internal capabilities. Like these examples have shown, organisations can introduce paying attention to their employees without spending any money.
Find out how listening to your employees can increase your employee engagement. Contact us today.