#1 – How effective and consistent is the communication in your workplace?
If you are not doing it already conducting regular team meetings and one-on-one employee catch-ups, this is one of the best ways to start improving communication. Once a week is a good standard to work with, but this may vary depending on your industry, team roles, and organisational culture.
Past experiences may lead you to think of meetings as obligations that are likely to disengage staff, rather than opportunities to engage them. However, you don’t have to let past experiences define the type of leader you will be. Meetings are the perfect time to encourage engagement by welcoming questions and facilitating active discussions that will spark innovation and improvements.
Distributing written communications such as meeting minutes, intranet announcement, internal newsletters and annual reports also play an important role in keeping staff informed and engaged, while building your trust and credibility as a leader.
Outside of your meetings, don’t underestimate the value of simply saying “Good morning” and “Good evening” and communicating a genuine interest in your people.
#2 – Do your employees feel like they are learning new things and developing their existing skills?
Show that you care about your staff and their development. Even if you have a staff member who is a self-motivated learner, it is not enough that they know where their career is headed and are motivated to work towards achieving their goals.
You need discuss and develop your team’s career progression plans with them individually, to identify and communicate how this aligns with their current role and future opportunities within your organisation.
Opportunities for formal promotion might only come up occasionally, but that shouldn’t stop your employees from learning and discovering new opportunities within their existing roles. Ensure that there always some elements of each employee’s work that challenges them – this could be as simple as setting them a goal to identify ways to automate or remove duplication in repetitive, tedious tasks.
If you want to keep your employees engaged, or engage the disengaged, it is essential to provide regular opportunities for them to gain new experiences related to their career progression plan. Be committed to providing ongoing support, developing their technical skills where relevant, and providing leadership development training for both experienced and emerging leaders.
These development opportunities can be worked in with your existing performance management processes and reviews. Remember – performance management is not only about managing poor performers; it’s also about coaching and developing engaged team members as well as good performers.
#3 – Do your employees feel appreciated and are their ideas and success being recognised?
Remember to thank your employees or staff for a job well done, consider their opinions and suggestions seriously, and never belittle or demean them for having an idea.
However, be sure to show appreciation and provide feedback on each employee’s work in a way that is both respectful and appropriate for them.
Understanding your team through a behavioural model, such as the DISC® Profile for Leaders, can help you adapt your communication to get the most out of them without sacrificing getting along with them. For example, it will help you identify why some people want you to broadcast their success at a team meeting while others feel more appreciated when you offer private, one-to-one appreciation of their work.
You can also influence your organisational culture by encouraging your team members to say “thank you” to each other for help or jobs well done, and reinforce this when you lead by example.
#4 – Do your people trust you, your department, and your organisation?
As a leader, you are responsible for representing your organisation and using your influence to create a culture of trust. You may know you are trustworthy, but does your team know it? If not, it might not be your fault, but you still need start building trust now, because it’s going to take time.
An obvious way to do build trust is to keep your promises, but you also need to ask yourself: are you making the right promises in the first place? Don’t say “yes” to because it’s what people want to hear today if it means your trust with them will be broken tomorrow.
Trust doesn’t grow overnight; you must consistently make decisions and take actions that will build trust in your team. If an employee discusses a confidential matter with you, keep it confidential. Ask for feedback and do some reflection yourself on your consistency and fairness when dealing with staff. Make the most of opportunities to interact with your colleagues at networking and company social events by showing an interest in them and showing that you are human too.
Continuing to develop your emotional intelligence and self-awareness are essential aspects of demonstrating trust. You can do this by:
- completing a comprehensive Emotional Intelligence Assessment
- assessing your openness level in 5 minutes using a simple tool such as the Johari Window
- requesting feedback.
No matter how hard you try, there will be times when you let your team down. Remember that it’s okay for leaders to admit their mistakes – in fact, it helps build your trust and credibility.
#5 – Do they have confidence in your organisation’s future?
In your daily interactions and regular meetings, you probably already remind your staff about their individual and team goals. However, do you take the opportunity to remind them how the part they are playing is contributing to the “bigger picture” – reaching organisational and community goals? You can do this both qualitatively, by giving positive feedback about how their work is affecting others, and quantitatively, by demonstrating growth with figures and charts.
This strategic leadership technique will engage your staff by creating a clear vision for the future, aligning this with their individual goals, and demonstrating that they are doing more than just ticking things off a to-do list.