7 Strategies to Engage your Workforce

7 Strategies to Engage your Workforce

A number of C-me’s clients regularly report experiencing challenges in maintaining the optimal performance of their workforce. Putting together healthy and strong teams is the easy part. Helping these teams remain healthy and strong is far harder.

Teams need the ability to evolve regularly, in order to meet the constantly changing demands of today’s world. This takes flexibility in the workforce and in the leaders of these workforces.

How does Employee Engagement have an effect on Performance?

These all too familiar challenges are rooted in the need to help employees remain engaged in what they are doing. Employee engagement was first studied in depth by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, an American-Hungarian psychologist.

His research focussed on creativity and productivity. He interviewed a wide range of successful professionals across a spectrum of industries, seeking to discover the secrets to their performance.

Csíkszentmihályi reported that for those people who appeared truly engaged in their work, “they would describe feeling a sense of competence and control, a loss of self-consciousness, and such intense absorption in the task at hand that they would lose track of time”.

Therefore, his observations would suggest that an engaged workforce is a happy workforce and that happier workforces tend to be productive workforces.

How to Engage your Workforce?

Building on Csíkszentmihályi's findings, we have compiled seven strategies that will help leaders and organisations engage their employees and ultimately maximise their performance

Strategy #1 Help your people feel valued

There is always the temptation when seeking to maximise your workforce's performance to focus on strategies directly linked to improving efficiencies, output and profitability.

This might be measuring sales targets, calls made, income generated, meetings held etc.

Whilst this approach may work in the short run, it can lead to staff feeling undervalued, unappreciated and burned out. It would be more productive to focus on the inputs our employees receive, rather than looking at their outputs.

By caring for them as people and recognising that they are the most valuable asset an organisation has, productivity is likely to rise as a natural by-product.

Measuring outputs is of course part of the picture, but solely focussing on them at the expense of inputs is short-sighted. When people feel valued, their discretionary effort is likely to increase, and with this, their performance.

Strategy #2 Help your people feel safe

Job security is a topic of regular conversation. Notwithstanding the importance of accountability and a healthy desire to see people perform. It would be prudent for workplace leaders to help their workforce feel safe and to provide them with security.

The background stress created by looming job cuts must not be underestimated – it drains valuable energy that would be far better ploughed into the work itself.

What could it look like for you as an employer to help your people feel secure with their work i.e. “we value you and want you to keep working here. We will do all that we can to ensure this happens”.

Whilst at the same time, creating a healthy challenge in their work i.e. “we don’t want you to stand still or get complacent so will push you to perform. We will also provide robust cultures and systems to best support you in this”.

Strategy #3 Help your people to know themselves

Knowing ourselves is vital if we are to perform at our best. What makes you uniquely you? What are your strengths? What are your blind spots? How has the past shaped you?

Our world often wrongly assumes our identities are rooted in what we do. This leads to an unfavourable comparison with others and driven competitiveness. By spending more time seeking to understand ourselves, we will learn to be more comfortable with who we are. A maturity in knowing ourselves will also naturally lead to recognising our need for other people. None of us can do it all ourselves.

One of the great strengths of C-me Colour Profiling is that our colour profiles are deeply relational. We want to help people to understand themselves better, but in relation to other people. As an example, you can see from the image below, that each page provides bespoke statements related to yourself followed by more general characteristics. This enables us to reflect on ourselves in relation to other people.

John_Noble_HPPlus_Remote_Report_Page_09 engaging

When every member of a team has a C-me colour profile, they can be used to initiate engaging conversations about people’s preferred ways of doing things. C-me really encourages the positive affirmation of one another, feeding the realisation that we all bring something unique to the team.

This creates a scalable, lasting impact for employees and organisations. Our hope is that by using our profiles in the context of your team, each team member will come to an awareness of their reliance on each other in order to succeed.

Strategy #4 Help your people lead themselves

The better we know ourselves, the more effective we can be in leading ourselves.

At a glance, this could ensure someone takes personal responsibility for their attitudes and actions. They would become their own proactive leader, rather than relying on others or expecting to be spoon-fed.

One of the most powerful ways we can help people lead themselves effectively is through building a culture of coaching.

A stereotypical leader can often be very directive, which can be disempowering. Developing as a leader who coaches others, rather than telling them what to do, will help others learn to make decisions themselves and lead themselves effectively.

Strategy #5 Help your people stay engaged

There is much wisdom in Steve Jobs’ oft-quoted quip: “the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. This is not just something the workforce should take responsibility for, managers also need to help their people find what it is they love to do.

Engagement involves three key strands: what we are doing, why are we doing it and how we are doing it.

Presence of a well-defined ‘what’ ensures workers are clear on their role. The presence of an inspiring ‘why’ ensures workers believe in what they are doing, the belief being a powerful motivator. The presence of a clear ‘how’ focuses on the method and approach being employed, how the team will get to the ‘why’.

The best leaders focus on all three areas of engagement, giving most flexibility in the ‘how’ area. This is because we can be really clear on our role (the ‘what’) and have the most inspiring vision to chase (the ‘why’) but if the way we are being asked to work (the ‘how’) fails to bring out the best in us, engagement levels will quickly dwindle.

Try to think creatively about the different possible ways of approaching a task and give your workforce freedom to explore an approach that suits them best.

Strategy #6 Help your people to live and breathe the vision

Vision is a compelling picture drawing people towards a common end. Far too often, vision statements exist on a company’s documents but not in the hearts of their employees. This leads to a common problem of vision leaks.

You will keep your workforce engaged by regularly and creatively reinforcing the vision.

Strategy #7 Help yourself to keep growing as a leader of others

Leaders, are you a D.O.T. or a D.O.P? A Do-er of Tasks or a Developer of People?

The former is easy because it involves getting on with what is in front of us. Yet if our focus remains here, we will lead in such a way that creates other D.O.T’s. This is an example of short-termism or, to put it bluntly, poor leadership.

Being a Developer of People, however, takes far more effort. It takes patience and intentionality, which costs in the short term. Although an investment, over time this will lead to a lasting and deeper leadership legacy.

If you are a leader, take time each week to think about how you are developing yourself, and how in turn that might filter down to how you develop others.

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