Many leaders unknowingly sabotage their careers by wrongly assuming their employees are actively engaged in their work.
This lack of understanding about engagement — enthusiasm, effort and enjoyment at work — will eventually affect the bottom line and make the leader look ineffective.
Here are the facts: The average leader engages only three out of every 10 employees. The best leaders engage six or more out of every 10 employees.
Your customers clearly see whether your employees are engaged or not. Engagement affects the quality of their work, their productivity and responsiveness, all of which affect your customers’ experience. They feel employees’ enthusiasm and energy — or lack thereof — and recognize the bad results of an organization with overall morale problems. Employee engagement matters.
Research shows how important employee engagement is. Consider these facts:
- Engaged employees are 20 percent more productive than the average employee.
- Organizations with high-engagement scores have customer loyalty numbers that are twice the level of organizations with average employee-engagement scores.
- Organizations with top quartile employee-engagement scores have twice the level of net profits as organizations with bottom quartile employee-engagement scores.
This begs the question: What do the best leaders do differently from average leaders?
Here are three things that will improve engagement among the people you lead and help you become one of the best, not one of the rest.
Connect Employees with Customers
First, the best leaders help people see that their work is important and provides value to others. The key is to connect employees with real flesh and blood customers who share their stories and provide testimonials that express gratitude for your employees and your company’s work.
This surprises most leaders but it’s true. In one study, when a photo of a patient was attached to CT scans, the accuracy of radiologists’ work increased 46 percent. (Yes, 46 percent is correct and not a typo!) Stunning, isn't it!
Help Employees Achieve their Career Aspirations
The best leaders take time to get to know their employees and find out what their employees hope to achieve in their careers. Armed with this knowledge, the best leaders find jobs, ongoing responsibilities or temporary projects that help their employees progress toward their career goals. Employees appreciate this. They respond with enthusiasm and energy when their supervisor shows he or she cares.
Give Employees Challenging Work that Fits Their Strengths
After you give your employees work that helps them advance their careers, make sure it is sufficiently challenging. If it isn’t, they will grow bored. If it is too challenging they will be stressed out or fail. The right degree of challenge will help them become immersed in their work and their time working will fly by, a state that psychologists have labeled as flow or optimal experience.
When you connect employees with customers, help employees achieve their career aspirations and give employees challenging work that fits their strengths, it engages, enthuses and energizes employees so your organization achieves higher customer loyalty and company profits.
Michael Lee Stallard, president and cofounder of Connection Culture Group, speaks, teaches and consults on leadership, organizational culture and employee engagement. He is the author of Connection Culture and Fired Up or Burned Out. Follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.