In today’s global marketplace, products & services, business plans & models, technologies are easily replicable so not too much is very unique – for very long. If you want to stand out amongst your competition you must replicate the one thing that your competitors don’t have. That is your team. And the only way to keep your competitors from replicating or stealing your team is to keep your employees actively engaged so they do not consider leaving your organization or giving competitive insights to your competition. You can do this, and it is not necessarily about pay and benefits. It’s about employee engagement. Yes, employee engagement is your SECRET WEAPON.
Job #1 of a Leader – Keep Your Employees Actively Engaged
Your people are truly your only uniqueness, nobody has them but you. How you leverage them will help determine your success. If you treat them with respect and train them to be the best service providers in your market, you will go far in protecting your business.
There are several steps and methods for improving employee engagement. A few key ones are:
- Ensure employees are trained with the key skills needed to succeed in their role.
- Determine individual motivators and align with roles.
- Communicate the vision, mission, and purpose of the organization.
- Model accountability at all levels.
Ensure employees are trained
It’s interesting, I was talking to a business owner recently who was experiencing increased turnover. They were suffering from the exorbitant cost of employee turnover and struggling with the topic. Their answer (a knee-jerk reaction, at best) was to reduce training on new employees. Their opinion was that they should not invest significant training on new team members until they demonstrated that they were going to stay. What do you think happened? Turnover has increased, of course!
Employees expect to have the skills, tools, and resources to complete their job. This is essentially the starting point for all employee expectations. If you are not going to invest at this base level, you will struggle as this company did. And you will experience rising turnover, not declining numbers.
Determine individual motivators
Here’s a little secret that some people don’t understand. Not all employees are motivated by money. Neither are all of them motivated by recognition. It’s critical that you understand what motivates your team members.
There are several assessment devices that can assist you with this. The one we use is based on the work of Eduard Spranger, who first defined six primary types or categories to define human motivation and drive. These six types are Theoretical, Utilitarian, Aesthetic, Social, Individualistic and Traditional. Our assessment looks at twelve driving forces that are based on six areas, with each measured on a continuum.
- Knowledge (Instinctive vs. Intellectual)
- Utility (Selfless vs. Resourcesful)
- Surroundings (Objective vs. Harmonious)
- Others (Intentional vs. Altruistic)
- Power (Collaborative vs. Commanding)
- Methodologies (Receptive vs. Structured)
Some of these are self-explanatory, but others are more involved than I can cover in this article. But by understanding the key drivers of your employees, you can tailor their role to put them in a situation for the best fit.
Communicate vision, mission, and purpose
I have written on this topic so much that I feel redundant even bringing it up. Let me simply paraphrase Simon Sinek, “Employees don’t connect with what you do, they connect with why you do it”. Your employees want to understand why your business does what it does. And it’s more than just making a profit. You must learn how to communicate your passion for your company’s business to your employees so that they will connect at a deeper level. And when they do, they will become far more engaged in the business and connected with its outcome.
Model accountability at all levels
Today’s younger generations can spot fraud quicker than any before. Perhaps they are just jaded and cynical. But if they do not believe their leaders are authentic, they will lose faith in them. And when they do, they will not become engaged as employees.
Accountability is measured in various ways today. It used to mean “getting the job done”. But it’s much more than that now. Employees expect authenticity in their leaders. They expect transparency in policies and actions. Traditional leaders do not always feel comfortable in this type of environment. It is part of the reality that we are experiencing with the younger generation of workers.
High Employee Engagement is your Competition’s Greatest Fear
The competition used to be able to count on a certain level of discontent in any organization. With the elimination of pensions and reduction of retirement and health benefits, there is very little to keep a person at their current job. So competitors could wait to pounce on employees when they were vulnerable and “steal them” from other companies. How do I know this? I used to do it myself.
But if you can keep an employee engaged, there is very little reason for them to look elsewhere. By training, respecting and communicating with them, you are significantly increasing the level of engagement they have with you as an employer. ANd, in doing so, greatly REDUCING the likelihood that they will go work for that competitor.
A New Paradigm for Employee Engagement
I believe it was Richard Branson that laid it out something like this:
- Old Paradigm: If employees take care of the business, the business will take care of them
- New Paradigm: If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business
Note that this new paradigm puts the onus on the employer to take care of their employees first. This is what builds employee engagement. Taking this approach to training, leading and communicating with employees will greatly improve retention. Not only that, it will improve quality, customer satisfaction, safety, and absenteeism. I will write more about that in a future article.
Employee Engagement is your SECRET WEAPON
If you want to slay your competition, increase employee retention, reduce costs and improve overall quality, you must work to increase employee engagement. I have an EFFECTIVE MODEL for this that I would love to show you. I’ve given you pieces of it today. If you would like to learn more, contact me today.