By Karen O’Donnell, Toastmasters International
The classic image of a common vision and purpose is the beauty of geese flying in formation. In a small business, when we are in a similar supportive environment, a team has the potential to be actively engaged and adopt the business vision and purpose. This clearly will impact the bottom line.
An interesting question is how many employees are this actively engaged. A recent Harvard Business Review survey of business leaders showed that this is less 25%. However these actively engaged people are more productive, have a real sense of belonging and will actively find solutions to challenges.
The survey showed that 50% of employees are in a neutral zone neither engaged nor disengaged. They are turning up to work and doing their job. But without the strong sense of engagement they could easily leave if another job is more appealing. What if given the right environment and support, this group could be actively working towards the goals of the business? With a little time and effort into this group, you could turn it around.
What you need are the 3 Cs: communicate – collaborate – celebrate
There is an increasing variety of communication tools available to teams. Many are time-saving like texts, emails and conference calls. However, having an ‘old fashioned’ face-to-face chat with someone over a cup of coffee is a wonderful way to connect.
In one of my earlier roles, I had a boss Alex. We would review progress from the previous week, and look at goals for the coming week. He would always end by asking; ‘Karen, what do you need from me to reach your goals this week?’ It encouraged me to give him and the team my best.
Schedule a one-on-one ‘conversation’ with everyone who reports directly to you. Develop an interest in them as a person and build rapport. Show empathy if they are dealing with personal issues. You can use the time to review progress from the prior week, and review priorities for the current week.
By maintaining this sense of ‘connection’ your team is more likely to expend less energy and complete projects more quickly. This again translates to bottom line financial benefits.
Do you recall when a colleague or boss listened to your suggestions and took on board your ideas? It’s a great feeling when your recommendations are considered and even implemented.
Effective collaboration comes from each team member feeling as though they are an integral part of the success of the organisation.
Develop a listening culture. Brainstorming with your teams will ensure a high level of collaboration. When you encourage ‘idea sharing’ you empower employees to think outside of the box to generate new products and services for your organisation. They are also best equipped to come up with improvements on how they can be more efficient and effective.
When we are acknowledged and appreciated, we are more likely to help and co-operate with other team members.
Don’t wait until the end of project or a performance review. Celebrate immediately and frequently. These moments of thanks are informal, real-time exchanges of social praise and feedback, performed by employees and leaders alike.
Being acknowledged, even with micro-recognition, on a frequent basis triggers our intrinsic motivation and inspires us to work better, harder and more efficiently.
Deliver your praise by: (1) saying thank you, (2) specifically mentioning what they did that’s worthy of praise and (3) explaining how it is in line with the company’s vision and goals.
The two simple words ‘thank you’ have an immediate impact. Saying it in front of others will magnify its impact.
Business growth and employee engagement go together. Use the 3 Cs as the foundation of communication, you will have a fully engaged team, flying in formation and helping you build your brand and achieve your business goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen O’Donnell is from Toastmasters International a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org