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Management role in employee engagement

employee engagement corporate communications

In our series on employee engagement and workplace culture: 

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Damian McAlonan, a leadership communications and training expert, is Managing Partner with The Boost Partnership, a training delivery business in London, UK. We talk to Damian about management’s role in improving employee engagement.

Management role

How can individual managers work with their teams to enhance employee engagement?

A major factor in engaging your team is to provide recognition. This costs nothing and can be implemented immediately. Studies prove that organizations that give recognition and thank their people outperform those that don’t.

Interestingly, in a study by Deloitte they found recognition peer-to-peer means more than from leaders. This is because peers know what you’re doing day-to-day, so when they “thank you” for your efforts the impact has more meaning.

Creating stories that are easy and frequent to distribute is also key. In one company they create a moment during a weekly company-wide conference call to recognize someone for their contribution.

Another way a manager can listen to the voice of their team in an effective, collaborative and engaging way is to have a weekly roundup of three. This is when everyone on the team, including the manager, sends each other the top three things they learnt, achieved or are proud of that week.

Damian McAlonan

Each point must not be any more than three sentences long. This allows everyone on the team to interact and contribute. As this is shared at close of play on a Friday it also allows people to let everyone know what they are doing at the weekend. Not only does this recognition make the individual feel great it also enables the leadership team to promote the values and behaviours expected from everyone.

Trends in employee engagement

What trends and issues do you see arising in employee engagement?

The future of engagement must be reviewed in the wider context of business today. Productivity is the ultimate driver of growth in the global economy, and global productivity has been stuck for some time.

The question concerning business leaders for the last twenty years has been: can engagement really help businesses move the dial?

The more sophisticated organizations have already invested in engaging their workforce, but others are at the start of their journey and some have yet to begin.

Action instead of lip service

The worrying part is that if the discussion around engagement is treated as merely lip service (like empowerment before it) then the opportunity to make progress, and change the workplace for the better will be lost.

The reason for the lack of progress has been because the discussion has spent too long on debating what engagement is, who owns it, and believing that a ‘tick box’ exercise of the annual survey is enough.

The truth is that to engage people you need a genuinely deep understanding of your customers’, employees’ or partner’s mindsets and motivation. You need to know how to win hearts and minds.

For leaders that means unlearning what they’ve learnt in the workplace. This is a tougher predicament than making a decision of the company’s direction as it involves a personal change.

I believe the future of engagement hinges on three key components:

  • Leaders, individuals and how we communicate with each other.
  • Leaders can no longer ‘tell’ individuals what to do
  • Individuals must want to share in the vision and both must share transparent, open and honest communication.

Therefore, the future of engagement will rely on people wanting to make a difference. These people must be willing to apply that difference to small, simple, social, structural, strategic, and sustainable behaviours in their interactions with each other. That way the future of engagement will happen because of us rather than to us.

Employee Engagement expert Damian McAlonan

Damian McAlonan has more than 20 years’ experience in leading advertising, marketing, and sales departments. As Managing Partner with The Boost Partnership, Damian’s driving philosophy in creating effective change is to keep things simple, share with honest communication, and trust people to get on with it.

Damian is based in London, U.K. Find out more about Damian on Linkedin, and follow him on Twitter.

© Communicate Influence. Please see Communicate Influence’s Terms and Conditions for information on sharing, adapting or attributing content.

Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning writer, journalist, podcaster, and poet based in Toronto, Canada.

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