Yesterday I was chatting with a business owner who told me this:
”I just don’t know if my team is as engaged as they need to be. I mean, they are here and they do their work, but none of them are putting in that little bit extra. I feel like it’s all up to me — like I’m dragging them toward greatness.”
What a bummer! You hired your team to expand your capacity and capability. These people rely on your company for their livelihood — yet you feel alone and abandoned when it comes to growing your business. How can this be?
People want engagement
The first thing to recognize is that almost no one wants to be in a job they don’t care about. Having work that matters is hardwired into our DNA; it’s part of what it means to be human. If you give people a choice between a high-paying job of drudgery and a modestly paying job full of meaning, 95% of people will choose the more meaningful work. Don’t believe me? Stop by any not-for-profit entity and talk with their employees!
People want meaningful work — so why is it so hard to engage them?
Making a difference is hard.
When I ask people to describe the best team they were ever a part of, the one in which they were most engaged, had the most fun and got the best results, it was always a team that demanded a lot. If people want to achieve, if they want to do great work that makes a big impact (and if they don’t why do you want them on your team?) then you have to push them to do more, learn more and produce more than they would if they were left alone.
In order to demand a lot, you need to have an environment that is clearly defines great performance. You need to be able to show people how that little bit extra is making a difference. Then it helps to share some of the rewards of that great work.
Now, get out of the way.
One of the most difficult transitions in business is when we move from getting satisfaction from the work we’ve accomplished to getting satisfaction from the work our team has accomplished. On the flip side, there is nothing more demoralizing than a boss who rewrites everything you write, who takes credit for everything you created, or who fails to celebrate the great work that you did.
If you want a really engaged workforce, they need the autonomy to use their skills as effectively as possible to get to that well defined goal. They need to feel like it’s up to them, and that they are making a difference. That means that they get the credit when things go well, it means recognition of people’s efforts, and it means trusting them to get you there. Your job is to make sure they have the skills and competence that they need, the tools and training to succeed and they will fly.
How do you maximize the engagement of your team?