Upping Employee Engagement: What Your Team Wants But Doesn’t Get at Work

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Find out what your team wants from you as a manager, and how you can help them be happier and more productive at work.

As a leader, you have many different things on your plate and one of the best things you can do is to build a team that can support you and work together to reach common goals.

Managing a team and optimizing performance can be a challenge.

How can you develop a better relationship with your team members and help them be their best at the workplace?

Here are five things your team wants but doesn’t get at work:

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1. Opportunities to Give Feedback

A key factor of employee and team engagement is feeling as though they have a stake in the organization, and that their role matters. Most employees are used to a top-down approach of management and feeling as though they’re just a cog in a massive wheel. One way to make your team members feel more valued is to regularly solicit their feedback on work matters.

Whether it’s how best to solve a pressing problem, or asking for their input on a new company policy, get your team involved in the process instead of merely informing them about the outcome. This gives them a stake in the performance of the company and makes them feel more connected to their work. This can have a big impact on your company’s turnover rates: organizations that have regular employee feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9 percent lower.

2. Receive Better Feedback From You

Your team doesn’t just want to give feedback, they also want to receive it on a regular basis. Gone are the days of having only one employee appraisal meeting at the end of the year. These days, communication between manager and employee should not only be constant, it should also be effective. According to a Gallup survey, only 27 percent of workers strongly agree that the feedback they currently receive helps them do their work better.

So what does better feedback look like? As a leader, you should clarify expectations and share how their job role relates to larger team and organizational goals. Giving them the context of how they contribute to the organization helps create meaning for what they do. Clarify expectations also make it easier to appraise performance and manage the team as a whole.

Some companies have instituted half-yearly or quarterly appraisals to provide regular channels for managers to manage their team’s performance. While that can be useful, feedback between manager and employee need not always be so formal. Something as simple as a monthly one-on-one meeting can be a good way to check in with your team members, address any concerns, or provide acknowledgment for a job well done. Managing a team is a two-way relationship, and the giving and receiving of feedback are necessary to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

3. Use More of Their Strengths in the Workplace

Each person has specific skills or things they excel at, and we tend to really enjoy doing what we’re good at. In fact, most people are looking for that particular intersection (“something I’m good at” and “something I enjoy doing”) in their job.

As a leader, if you hire someone who’s a right fit for the position and you’re leveraging their strengths, you’re on track to building a strong team. The sense of confidence, effectiveness, and satisfaction that comes when doing something you enjoy and you’re good at can lead to a high level of performance at work. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged at work, eight percent more productive and 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs.

Related Article:How to Improve Relations Between Your Managers and Employees

How can you do a better job at identifying the individual strengths of your team members and leveraging on them? Get to know your team better. Organizing a team retreat can be a great way to connect with your team members outside of the office and learn more about their career goals and what they’re good at. Personality tests like the MBTI can also reveal each person’s work and communication preferences, and allow you to work with each individual’s inclinations instead of against them.

4. Be Inspired and Empowered by You

We all want to be inspired at work, but what does that mean in real terms? It means working for an organization with a vision that you can believe in, and being given the space and power to do your part in making that vision a reality. It sounds simple, but many leaders fail to articulate their vision to their team and do not allow them to be part of the process.

When you alienate your team in this way, it has a negative impact on their level of engagement with you as their direct manager, and therefore with the company. Eighty percent of those dissatisfied with their managers are also disengaged from their employers. There are many different ways to inspire your team, and beyond just inspiration, your aim as a leader should be to empower them. Respect their contributions. Put your trust in their capabilities to get the job done. Let them take ownership of their own work. An inspired and empowered team will want to live up to your high expectations.

5. Psychologically Safe Environment to Work In

Often, we think that it’s the composition of individuals that makes or breaks a team. Google’s research into team performance showed otherwise; it’s not that makeup of the team that matters, but how they interact and relate to each other. They found that a psychologically safe environment wherein each team member feels comfortable enough to express their opinions and take risks produces successful teams.

How can you create such an environment? Psychological safety entails building relationships with your team members and connecting to them as individuals. There is no one correct way to do this as the situation varies from team to team. But you can start by assessing the effectiveness of current group norms by getting the team’s feedback. Then develop an atmosphere that further encourages communication and empathy between team members.

Related Article:Researchers Identify the 14 Key Areas of Employee Disengagement

Communication Is Key

Improving communication within your team can make a huge difference. Better communication reduces misunderstandings, helps to align everyone in the same direction and encourages creativity and collaboration.

At the end of the day, we are looking for meaning and purpose in our work, and working with people we respect and like. As a leader, you can influence your team’s mindset and morale in a positive way that makes them perform their best by addressing the things that are lacking in your workplace.

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