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Are you experiencing a lack of staff engagement at your organisation?

In the first of this two-part mini series, we explore why this could be happening and what you can do to solve the problem. In part two, Citadel Gymnastics founder Fiona Murphy lists some tactics that have helped her engage her staff.

Let’s start by thinking about staff behaviour and the characteristics you may want to eliminate. These might include:

  • Not caring about the small business details
  • No motivation – only in it for the money
  • Being disconnected – lots of chatting to colleagues rather than working
  • The “I’m not good enough” or “managers in the office vs. staff on the floor” mindset

As you run into these issues, you may feel confused as to why they’re occurring. Why don’t my team care about the business? Why is the team disconnected?

If you’re feeling confused, then it’s very likely your staff are too. Here are some methods you can use to solve these problems, and boost employee engagement.

Identify where is the disconnect is happening

Although you may think your introductions with new starters are always clear, are they being perceived that way? For example, if you didn’t give a new hire enough information and you throw them into their own work and projects, you’re likely to get frustrated when they don’t perform to the level you expect of them.

Alternatively, when you give team members too much information, crucial details may be ignored. So when inducting new starters; you need find the right balance to avoid information overload and therefore disconnect.

If you’re not seeing the level of participation you want from staff, the first thing to do is check clarity. Do they understand what you’re asking them to do? Have you given them enough information, or have you assumed too much knowledge?

Build your organisation’s brand

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller is a classic book that explains a framework for successful marketing practices. And all the concepts mentioned can apply to staffing too.

If you’re a business owner or on the leadership team, your job is to sell the vision and brand to your customers and staff. And ultimately, your leadership and ability to get your staff to engage with you heavily revolves around your clear messaging to them.

How do you think your staff would describe their experience at the organisation? Do they feel like they’re inside a bottle trying to read the label? If yes, you need to be clearer about the brand you’re asking them to represent.

Being clear with your message

Can your staff repeat your organisation’s core message in a compelling way? This means having a clear picture of:

  • What you stand for and what you sell – if your staff receive a new customer enquiry, can they communicate your brand and messaging without you helping out?
  • Who you are as a business owner or manager
  • What their job is – don’t just assume your staff know what to do because you gave them a job description
  • Who is responsible for what within the organisation

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for staff engagement

Let’s take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and relate this to employment. When you give your staff too much information or not enough, their brains are burning too many calories to figure out:

  1. How will this job help me to survive and thrive – WHY should work here?
  2. How can I be successful here – HOW does my employer want me to work?

The goal is to make your staff the hero of the story. You need to be staff-centred in every communication and focus on aspects of employment that are centred around your employees’ own survival and ability to do well in the world.

A formula for clear communication

All communication needs to answer staff questions surrounding what they want, what problem. you’re helping them solve, and what life will look like while working for you. For example:

  • You will get paid and have money
  • You will obtain any appropriate training and qualifications
  • You will hold esteem and clout amongst your peers (this helps younger employees particularly to feel more important as it shows they good future at your company)
  • You will have flexibility in terms of working hours and location

Stop answering questions they didn’t ask

Avoid discussing unnecessary information they don’t need or want to know about, for example:

  • Perks they don’t care about
  • Overloading with information that doesn’t pertain to them
  • Concentrating on people or things who were there before their time
  • Reaching for achievements from the past

And remember, money doesn’t compensate for poor leadership. One of the biggest pitfalls when it comes to staff engagement is assuming that simply giving employees a promotion will solve problems.

Improving staff engagement through increased clarity

Just as much as it’s about what you do say, it’s also what you don’t say. For example, when writing an email to staff members, write it in full, reread it, and take out what’s not needed. Focus on the highlights and top three objectives.

Then comes ownership and opportunities – this is a good way to flip mindsets. When you tell employees you believe in them and you’re ready to give them opportunities, you hit the middle tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy. By doing this, you build relationships with your employees, and demonstrate your trust in them.

Social recognition also goes a long way in building staff engagement. When you publicly recognise the successes of your staff, it builds their self-esteem. It makes them feel accomplished, appreciated, and like they’re digging into that achievement potential – hitting the top tiers of the hierarchy.

Also, don’t forget about metrics that tie into ownership and opportunities. When you’re speaking to staff in a way that makes them responsible for hitting certain numbers, it creates ownership and accountability.

Remember, none of this will work unless you are consistent. For example, if you promise rewards at a certain benchmark and then you forget about it, push it back or present it in a way that’s not important anymore, that’s going to work against you. Whatever you set forth, you have to follow through.

Hopefully you now have more insight into why your staff may lack engagement. And – most importantly – what you can do to fix it. See these solutions in action by reading part two of this mini series, where we ask Citadel Gymnastics founder Fiona Murphy how she engages her staff. You can also find advice and support from likeminded people in the LoveAdmin Facebook Communities.

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