Engaging and mobilizing employees can feel like a daunting challenge. However, we have found that a few simple behaviors can make a huge difference to improve engagement.
It is frustrating to have to read minds
For instance, many employees are frustrated because they feel like they have to read their manager’s mind. They don’t know how they are doing and how they can do better. The annual performance review is sometimes their only chance to find out, and that event is so stressful and formal that the environment is not conducive for improvements.
Spans of control contribute to the problem
This situation is not completely the fault of management. In some organizations, spans of control have become so large that managers have to complete another formal performance reviews every three or four days.
The solutions to engaged employees are simpler than you might think
There are many simple strategies to engage and mobilize employees. They cost almost nothing to implement, can be put into place immediately, and have huge impact.
For instance, one opportunity that many leaders have – even at the C-level – is to give more frequent, informal feedback about how each employee is doing. That way, everyone in an organization knows what is expected of them and how they can get better.
The seven questions leaders must ask employees
There are seven simple questions every leader must answer and communicate to engage their employees. As with advertising, frequency counts. Small, informal conversations about performance go a long way – especially when they include teachable moments about different situations and details. The questions include:
- What do I expect from you?
- What are you doing well?
- Is there anything, you can be doing better?
- Do you want to do something better?
- (If appropriate): What will happen if you improve (e.g., more responsibility, more time with leadership, more desirable assignments)?
- (If appropriate): What will happen if you don’t improve?
- How can I help?
While all of these questions are important, the last question is especially important. It shows the employee that the leader cares, and is not merely abdicating responsibility or shifting blame.