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In our last post we looked at the relationship between engagement and time-wasting activities within teams. In an extensive study (over 25 million responses) into engagement conducted in the U.S. by Gallup, engagement was found to have a significant impact on organisational performance, with those organisations and teams scoring in the top half for employee engagement nearly doubling their odds of success compared with those scoring in the bottom half.
Of the responses submitted, only 30% of respondents were engaged and felt inspired at work. Meanwhile, 20% were actively disengaged with the remaining 50% neither engaged nor disengaged, merely doing what’s required without experiencing any form of inspiration.
Employee disengagement costs organisations money (the study estimates $450-$550 billion annually in the U.S.), decreasing customer ratings, profitability, productivity and turnover and increasing the number of safety incidents, theft, absenteeism, the number of patient safety incidents and the number of defects (unusable product).
Given the devastating impact of a lack of engagement on team and organisational performance, what can leaders do to identify the causes and heighten levels of engagement in their teams?
1. Are your team clear on team and organisational strategy and goals?
A team unclear of where they are headed are unlikely to be engaged in the journey. Ensuring your team know not only the team goals, but also those of the organisation provides a sense of context and meaning. It heightens perceptions of self-worth and value, as employees are more able to understand how they fit into the bigger picture. This shared vision strengthens organisations as employees feel they’re on the same side, working towards the same outcome.
2. Are you and your team being held to account?
Accountability drives performance. When individuals and teams know they will be held to account, they are far more likely to deliver an effective outcome. People want to be acknowledged and recognised for their achievements, but equally they should be held to account for their failures. Empowerment goes hand in hand with increasing accountability; leaders need to give their people the power and authority to think, react, make decisions, initiate and innovate. Doing so shows that you trust them and have faith in their ability.
3. Do you provide enough opportunities and encouragement for personal development?
Developing the strengths and abilities of your team makes them more able. More importantly perhaps, it shows them that you value them and want them around for the journey. Investing time and money into your people gets them closer to realising their own potential and with this comes increased confidence and increased commitment to the team and it’s goals.
4. Do you care about your team?
The Gallup study asked 1,003 employees how much they agreed with the statement ‘My supervisor focusses on my strengths or positive characteristics’ and found that of the 37% who agreed with this statement, active disengagement was just 1%, whilst 61% of these employees were actively engaged, twice the national average. Emotional intelligence: the ability to perceive and understand your own and others’ emotions and to use this information to guide your thoughts and actions, is now widely recognised as an essential leadership capability. Those leaders who express genuine interest and concern in the well-being and happiness of their team are more likely to have engaged team members.
5. Do you keep your team informed?
Teams who feel ‘out of the loop’ or uninformed are far more likely to be disengaged. Communication is critical to any highly effective organisation and team. When people get wind of something they feel they should have heard first-hand, or just generally feel they’re not being kept informed, they begin to doubt and question and their trust in the leader and/or organisation is weakened (sometimes diminished). People will not care about a leader/team/organisation that they do not feel cares about them.
Engaging your team drives performance. Gallup’s research found that it is the engaged 30% of workers who come up with the majority of the innovative ideas and bring on board most of a company’s new customers. So, if you don’t know how engaged your team are, it might be time to find out.