You Have to Have Heart

The 10 Tenets of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the key to improving the employee-customer relationship. But employee engagement takes passion, by the leader, both for the business and for those who service the customers, the employees. It also takes commitment by the business leader to invest in employee growth and development so they can service the customers with concomitant passion and commitment. But this takes heart and the business leader needs to have heart. If the leader’s heart isn’t in it, then employees will not be passionate about, and committed to, the business and its’ customers.

To gain heart, business leaders should implement the 10 tenets of employee engagement. Over the past few months, this blog has discussed one of the 10 tenets each week with recommendations on how to implement them with heart – and improve the employee-customer relationship.  This blog is a summary of these 10 tenets.  To read the detailed blog on a specific tenet, just click on the bolded Number line.

Number 1 – Employees will not be successful if they do not know what they are supposed to be doing.

Create a job description or job profile for the position. If you don’t have this, how did you even recruit effectively and appropriately for the position?

Position profiles normally have the following components: title, to whom the position reports, location, summary of the scope of responsibility, key accountabilities (normally 4 to 7 key areas), key contacts (both internal and external), direct reports, position requirements (education, competencies, other position related criteria), and working conditions.

But a position profile is more than just a template, drafted by the HR group then posted as a job advertisement, then filed away until the next time the position is vacant and required to be filled. This profile should be a living document, one that changes with changes in business conditions, market conditions, customer requirements, changes in the customer base, or changes in organizational structure.

Number 2 - Employees need to know and appreciate the purpose of your organization if they are to effectively represent your organization.

Develop a sense of purpose for your business, one that clearly states what your organization wants to become. What is the vision, the mission of your organization? What function does it perform? For whom does it perform this function and how does it go about it? Two critical components need to be in place if employees are to be engaged in their work, engaged in the company's performance and success.

Number 3 - If you want your employees to help you attain your business goals, they need to know the plan. You need to share what, when, where, and how with them.

What is particularly difficult with this tenet is that many companies do not actually have a business plan. They set out to sell a product or service, manage to get sales from this product or service, end up hiring people to help them service the need created by these sales and presto! they have a business that is working and delivering profit. But, as the years go by, the lack of a good business plan, created with the customer and market in mind, can turn their business into one that is no longer growing or performing to their expectations. This may be due to the fact their business does not have the clarity of direction a business plan will provide.

Number 4 - Employees need to have goals and be measured to the results of those goals to ensure they are working on the right things to help your business grow profitably.

As business owners, leaders and managers, we should be working with our staff to create quarterly and annual goals for our part in the business. Goal setting can be a collaborative exercise where both the manager and the employee benefits as both can work together to develop the goals and implement the actions associated with the goals. Having well-defined goals in place provides monthly and quarterly opportunities for the manager to meet with the employees and discuss/review what has happened in the past month or quarter and whether or not the future goals make sense. Without these goals, and these regular reviews, it is difficult for the employee to know if they are contributing and if they are performing to expectations.

Number 5 - Employees need regular feedback if you want them to actively contribute to the success of your organization.

Feedback is information that is
- meaningful and actionable;
- offered in behavioural terms, using real life examples;
so that the person receiving the feedback gets a clear picture of what he or she has done in the past, and how that specific behaviour can be corrected or enhanced.

Number 6 - Opportunities to continue to learn and develop at work can be a huge motivator for employees.

There are a myriad of opportunities you can provide to employees so that they continue to learn and develop their skills. These opportunities can be effectively used as motivators to improve performance as well as increase the expertise of your team.

Number 7 - Recognize and reward your employees, frequently.  Ask yourself, "What would this employee like?"

"Each of us wants to know that what we are doing matters." Gary Chapman and Paul White, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

There are many methods and ways for recognizing and rewarding employee performance. They may include a competitive salary, an incentive bonus, benefits, recognition events, non cash awards, development opportunities, and basic forms of appreciation.

Research suggests that employees who are appreciated - in the manner that is most important to them - are employees that are less likely to leave, increase customer satisfaction and, sometimes even improves productivity (Allen and Helms, "Employee Perceptions of the Relationship Between Strategy, Rewards and Organizational Performance," Journal of Business Strategies, 2002). Research also shows that employees prefer their recognition and rewards in different ways. Not all employees should be treated the same.

Number 8 - Build a positive work culture.  With a positive work culture, employees want to come to work each day and they want to contribute.

"Purpose at Work is emerging as a powerful new driver of employee attraction, retention and productivity," states a Calling Brands survey conducted with 4,200 respondents in the UK, Germany and the US this year.

This is one of the six expectations of the new workplace - a workplace where work has a purpose, a noble cause. A place where personal growth and development are encouraged and employees are able to merge their personal community with their professional community. Employees seek out workplaces that not only value their contribution but are willing to invest in their future by providing them with an environment 'of purpose'.

Number 9 - Create alignment with internal customers, contractors and suppliers.

Change management and organization development experts talk about 'creating alignment' - aligning organizational strategy with daily business needs. And a big part of this is creating alignment between customer needs and employee actions. But we also have to take note of internal customers - those people within the organization that service us - as internal customers and who we service as internal customers.

"There is a remarkably close and consistent link between how internal customers are treated and how external customers perceive the quality of your organization's services. It is almost impossible to provide good external service if your organization is not providing good internal service." R. Zemke and K. Anderson, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, 1981.

And it's not just about internal customers within the walls of your organization, it's also about those arms-length internal customers - your suppliers and contractors - those people who either supply your organization directly or come into contact with your external customers, directly, as your representative. These suppliers and contractors should be considered an integral part of your organization and the service they provide should be measured as accurately and frequently as you measure the service level you provide.

Number 10 - Communicate, communicate, communicate.

No matter what you are attempting to change, reconfirm, revise or address about your organization, it's imperative you understand the real value of effective communication.

Think about it, every day, all day long, you are most likely involved in some form of communication, particularly, in today's world with the plethora of social media sites - and Facebook, the harbinger of communicating via the internet. In many workplaces, homes, educational institutions, virtually everywhere, communication has been altered, moving from face to face as the dominant vehicle for communicating with others to Facebook - sharing your personal life with everyone you have as your virtual and real friends. But the real value of communication, ensuring it is effective communication, is defined by what the receiver does with the message you have sent.

These 10 tenets of employee engagement all require a business head but also, a personal heart.  When seeking performance or productivity improvements, look to yourself first and how you are treating your employees.  A positive and supportive work culture will provide your employees with the motivation they need and want to continually contribute to business success.

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