By Dr Sue Mitchell
If your business is going to grow to any scale, you will need to either employ or work with other people to get there. Imagine for a moment that your business is a rowing boat and you need eight people to row in it. What happens when one person is giving it their all, but the others are sitting, talking and not pulling their weight? After a while, that one person becomes disillusioned and no longer rows with such energy or enthusiasm, and the boat ends up just drifting.
What happens when more people are pulling their weight, but out of time with each other and pulling in different directions? You would see the boat moving with stops and starts, heading one way and then the next, and going in circles. What happens when you put a cox on the boat, who can see ahead, steer the boat and help the rowers co-ordinate so they pull in time together? The boat surges forward, each rower’s pull is far more effective for the same effort when they are synchronised, the boat holds a direction and gets to their goal endpoint much faster and more efficiently.
The most successful organisations of all types inspire everyone to know where they are headed and why (the vision and mission) and pull together to get there more effectively and efficiently. Their people are engaged – they are psychologically and emotionally committed to the organisation, feel proud to be part of it and put in discretionary effort. There is a sense of energy, commitment, belief in what the organisation stands for, and a positive culture that you see in the way people interact with each other in the office, in meetings and with customers.
Repeated studies prove that organisations with highly engaged people are more successful.
- Organisations in the top quartile for engagement have higher profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and staff retention; and less absenteeism, safety incidents and quality defects (Gallup, bit.ly/galstat).
- Companies with highly engaged people have up to four times higher returns on share prices.
- Disengaged people spread negativity, dissent and poor performance. The Macleod Report states employee disengagement costs the UK economy £59-£65 billion annually in lost productivity.
- According to Gallop, managers account for 70% of the variance in engagement. Great managers inspire high engagement, but poor managers inspire disengagement. People join organisations but leave managers. A study by Manchester Inc. reported that executives who received coaching improved relationships with their direct reports (77%), immediate supervisors (71%) and peers (63%).
- Highly engaged employees are happier, healthier (have less days off sick) and have a higher sense of wellbeing overall.
Five steps to engage your team and your organisation
- Mindset. Regard employee engagement as a strategic driver of performance – match your business strategy with an understanding of what people want from work and how you will motivate your people to give their best every day at work.
- Invest in your own development as a leader. The way you behave and interact with other people, how you structure your team or organisation, your strategy and your way of doing business all shape engagement throughout your organisation.
- Create meaningful work. Share a clear vision, purpose and mission formed around core values and set high standards. Translate these to daily behaviours and activities and ensure you walk the talk too!
- Provide the resources people need – make it easy for them to deliver results. Ensure organisational structure, strategy and processes support people to be effective rather than creating barriers. Provide development for everyone for personal resources like confidence, resilience and emotional intelligence as well as technical skills, so they can invest energy and enthusiasm in their work. Invest in coaching for yourself and your managers.
- Recognise achievements in ways that motivate each person. It doesn’t need to be monetary!
Dr Sue Mitchell is author of The Authority Guide to Engaging your People: Raise staff performance and wellbeing, increase profitability and improve customer satisfaction