Every business has a point of difference (POD) – the people that make the team. A company’s ability to engage it’s people and enhance the strengths they bring, underlines the culture within the team. When people feel valued, seen, acknowledged and part of something bigger, they are more engaged. Woven into the ‘fabric’ of our being is a need to be seen and heard (Which is why solitary confinement is such a tough sentence). People need to have purpose and to know that they matter and are making a (positive) difference.
I have been working in teams, managing teams and training teams for most of my working career. These 18 observations top my essential list and are, for the most part, easy to action:
People need clarity of their role. What exactly are they employed to achieve. This Learning BITES video covered the concept in more depth. People need to know “What is expected of me and how will I be measured?”
Knowing what is expected is the first half. The second is to know ‘why’ – Why is a person employed – what is the purpose of their role. This is an area I am passionate about. If you want to engage people show them how and where they fit into the organisation and why their role is important. If they are newly employed it is a great investment of time for the MD/CEO to take half an hour, as part of the induction process, to explain this to new team members. It can create a buy-in to the corporate vision that so many managers yearn for.
Help people understand how their role fits with other team members. Creating a culture where every team member sees themselves as both an internal customer and supplier creates greater ownership of roles. Also knowing how their role contributes and effects other people’s work builds a larger picture – job rotation and taking people out on site is a great way to get people to appreciate other peoples contribution and pressures as well as see the net end result of individual effort. One of my clients took their whole manufacturing team out on site to a complete project and for some team members it was the first time they had seen what they made in the factory out in the ‘real world’. (One of my favourite comments was an older fabricator exclaiming, “Oh now I see why they have that lug there!”)
Communication tops every list when teams are asked what could be improved. I have yet to see or hear a team say there is too much communication (Too much paperwork -yes, too many emails – yes, too many meaningless meetings – yes but never too much communication) Remember communication is the understanding between two or more people. Ensure your team understands what they are doing and why it matters. Make the time to find out each team members preferred communication style – written, step-by-step instructions, verbal, visual, tactile, questioning, end goal clarity, instructional, etc. We all learn and communicate differently – a number of people I work with like to think then talk whereas I like to talk to think (ideally whiteboard marker in hand!)
“Feedback is the food of champions”. Aim to catch people doing something right. Feedback on their performance and share customer feedback, share project photos and online reviews and hard copy letters. Remember feedback goes both ways. Be open to receiving ideas and feedback. People need to be heard, and creating the environment and process for sharing ideas and suggestions shows you believe each person has an opinion and it is important.
Take personal interest in them – see the person, know their name, and ideally know the names of their direct family members (after all it is for family provision that people primarily come to work). “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”
Invest in people. Your organisation can only grow to the skill level of your people. To deeply engage team members consider train them both for their role and life skills – e.g. basic budgeting skills, relationships, Emotional Intelligence, etc. Businesses that focus on a culture of learning become learning organisations. Have books, cds, mp3s and videos available so a people want to improve themselves they can and then encourage them to cascade train.
Encourage friendships. Buddy system and social clubs are a great way to help people feel connected and part of a team beyond the physical tasks that they do. Vibrant whole team meetings, monthly/weekly BBQ, bringing cake on your birthday and peer training all help people see the person beyond the role they hold in the company.
There is magic in little things: Say thank you. Greet people every day and make a point of saying goodbye. Walk around and take an interest in people where they are doing what they do. Sincere compliments on a nice outfit, opening the door for people – basically all the good stuff your Mum taught you!
Extra tip – remember birthdays and anniversary of joining. Doing this needs to be ongoing and acknowledging with a handwritten card every year to make people feel appreciated.
Your people define you. Invest in them and make that definition awesome!