Ten Leadership Qualities that Fuel Employee Engagement
By: William L. Bouffard, author of Puttin' Cologne on the Rickshaw: A Guide To Dysfunctional Management And The Evil Workplace Environments They Create (CreateSpace, 2012)
As the economic outlook improves, a growing number of workers will set their sights on new job opportunities, creating a wave of employee turnover. The best way to combat the trend is to cultivate a leadership style that focuses on employee engagement .
Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee's positive or negative emotional feelings about their job, colleagues and organization influence their willingness to learn and perform at work.
Ten Steps to Engaging Employees
The key to engaging employees is to first understand how they feel about the company, culture and business practices. Equally important are their perceptions of management effectiveness. For many management teams these are unknowns.
While there’s no patented recipe for insuring employee engagement, there are many harmful management attitudes and behaviors that can make achieving employee engagement downright impossible.
Below are ten critical areas where employee feelings and perceptions can derail all attempts for employee engagement to take root — and the leadership qualities needed to counteract disengagement.
How you answer these questions will give insight into how your employees really feel and the path you must take to engage your workforce. Call it “going back to leadership basics.”
1. Values. Do you back up your message with positive deeds, or is the Values Statement only something to be posted on the lunchroom wall? Do you live and breathe your values — do you walk-the-walk or just talk-the-talk?
2. Vision. Is your Vision Statement clear and is it supported by the direction the business is going? Just like values, do you approach your organizational vision as “checking the box?” Do you believe that just because you’ve shared the vision with the organization it has automatically bought-in? Does your vision statement simply target being better at what you’re already doing or does it strive to do something truly “remarkable”?
3. Accountability. Is accountability in your organization a shared responsibility, or does it mean that someone at the bottom of the organization will be blamed when something goes wrong? True accountability is a sharing between management and the employees, be it in success, or failure.
4. Competition. Do you encourage competition between departments in your organization, or externally toward your competitors? Internal competition leads to fiefdoms, tears down teamwork, and leads to disengaged employees.
5. Efficiency or Effectiveness. Do you know the difference? Many management teams strive for constantly getting better at what they already do, all the while ignoring what they could/should be doing. Focusing only on efficiency can mean missing opportunities to stretch the business horizon through outside the box thinking.
6. Collaboration. Do you cultivate collaboration so that teamwork can flourish? Employees will engage in teamwork if they see the management team acting as a team. Remember, all behaviors in an organization, whether functional or dysfunctional, start with the management team.
7. Servant Leadership. Does your management team see themselves as servants of the employees or do they see themselves as worthy of being served? Servant Leadership in practice provides the simple power to motivate and engage your employees.
8. Continuous Improvement. Do employees readily provide suggestions to improve the business? If not, then it means they feel management doesn’t want to hear their opinions. Is criticism stifled from flowing up the organizational structure? If so, then the organization suffers from a culture of fear which is the antithesis of employee engagement.
9. Emotional Intelligence. Does your management team demonstrate emotional intelligence — the social grace to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions? Mastering this will garner empathy, which is the foundation of an engaged workforce.
10. Open Door Policy. Do you truly have an open door policy and, if so, is it actively encouraged? Or does management see this as just an interruption and waste of precious productive time? Those day-to-day interruptions are opportunities for management to exhibit true leadership — using these interruptions as coaching and mentoring opportunities to bring people together.
The above questions are geared toward management self-reflection which provides the key to great leadership qualities and an engaged workforce.
The truth is that you don’t necessarily need to perform employee surveys to find out how they feel about the organization and its leadership — all that’s needed is an honest self-evaluation by management of its own practices.
Mastering these basics of good leadership will set the stage for an engaged workforce.
William L. Bouffard is the author of Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw: A Guide To Dysfunctional Management And The Evil Workplace Environments They Create. (CreateSpace, 2012) He has over forty years of experience, twenty-five of them in leadership roles, in fields related to commercial operations and manufacturing, as well as in the military, defense, and space environments producing complex communications and electronics equipment. Bouffard received his BS in Industrial Engineering from Cleveland State University and served in the U.S. Army, Vietnam. For more information, visit PuttinCologneOnTheRickshaw.com.