7 tested tips to improve employee engagement

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A small business owner recently wrote me asking for advice on how to create engagement with his team members, hoping that it would lead to better bottom line results.

To get answers, I went to my friend, expert Dan Paulson of InVision Business Development (www.plan-coach-develop.com), to get some tips. Dan has helped many businesses reinvent themselves and go from negative to positive bottom lines. Here are some of Dan’s suggestions, along with a couple of mine.

  • Accept that others can do the work. One of the biggest mistakes leaders/business owners make is thinking that nobody can do the work better than they can. Each time an employee fails to follow through as expected they prove themselves right. People are an investment. Invest your time in teaching others to do things as well or better than you.
  • Focus on outcomes over actions. Process is important for quality and consistency. Encourage team members to solidify and improve the process. Focus on the results. This requires effective communication.
  • Coach more. Dan says he speaks with a lot of leaders who are frustrated with their team’s performance. Many are stuck in the mindset of, ‘I told them what I wanted and they should deliver.’ He says if managers give effective direction and show that they value their team, the team will perform far better than you could imagine. When we value people they value themselves more. When we ask for their input and opinions, it increases their commitment.
  • Get commitment. We tell people what we expect yet rarely make sure that it’s clear what needs to be done and by when. Getting acknowledgment can strengthen accountability. Always get commitment.
  • Follow up. Dan says that since we get busy, we delegate tasks to others and assume they will get done. However, then we don’t check in on their progress. Time goes by and we wonder what happened to the assignment, often only to find out that it never got done. Since we don’t live in a perfect world, we should check in on progress regularly. Like commitment, it is an important step in accountability.
  • Recognize when they are doing good things. People are negatively wired. Most feedback we get is negative. People rarely receive positive feedback and even when they do it’s tied to something you need them to fix. Leaders are problem solvers so it’s natural that we continually seek out what is broken. The Harvard Business Review says you need an approximately 6:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback if you want to significantly improve performance. Dan continues, “So the next time your people complain that they only hear when things aren’t working, understand that it takes six times as many positive comments to change the focus. People need purpose, want to feel valued, and desire to know what they do matters. If you can accomplish these three things, there is virtually nothing a person will not do for you.”
  • Empower employees. When teams become empowered they take ownership and their dedication and commitment to the company’s success increases. This can bring amazing results.

Employees are a company’s most valuable resources. People don’t want to have managers constantly looking over their shoulders, but they do want to know that they will be there when needed. 

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