How Do I Coach for Engagement?
I have been reading everything I can about employee engagement and feedback. How do I use the knowledge, in a practical way, to improve my leadership/coaching? —<i>Too Much Information, operations supervisor, transportation, San Diego</i>
Dear Too Much Information:
Employee-engagement studies during the past decade reveal that, for the most part, employee engagement isn't strong —and it may be getting worse. You are therefore wise to look for ways to improve it within your team.
With respect to making a positive impact on engagement: It is helpful to remember that people are motivated only by their own goals and aspirations, not those of others. This most definitely applies to work.
The secret is to connect your employees' personal goals and aspirations to those on the job that you wish them to pursue with equal enthusiasm. First, you'll need to know what those interests are and then help employees make this all-important connection. Remember: Not everyone is interested in or willing to discuss personal interests outside of work. If that's the case, don't push.
To find out what motivates your employees on and off the job, here's a secret: Ask questions. If an employee would rather not share outside interests, fine: Keep the discussion focused on work goals. Your next step is to make clear how an individual's work contributes to achieving the specified goals. When you do that, you will have tapped into the broader motivations of your employees.
Here's an illustration:
During your regular coaching discussions with Bob, you learn that he wants to make a significant contribution to preservation efforts in his local community. But Bob laments the fact that he first needs to acquire some new skills, and he doesn't have time for after-hours training. Bob will need to learn how to organize and manage projects, present ideas effectively to municipal leaders and the public, and analyze statistical data. If you can help Bob get these skills, you help him prepare for his role in the community—as well as advancement opportunities with your organization. It sounds cliché, but this would be a win-win situation that should help boost Bob's engagement in his work.
Individual leaders and organizations would do well to understand this simple principle and use it to drive greater engagement.
SOURCE: Alan Preston, Just Enough HR, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
LEARN MORE: Companies may measure it, but shared accountability for engagement is an exception, not the norm.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.