The article Four Levels of Employee Engagement evoked a lot of response from people, especially on the subject ‘how do you get people to level 4?’.
A typical question came from Henry, who asks, “Getting people to operate at level four is very difficult. Most people in my experience have too many other things going on in their lives to get total commitment from them. How do you get them to level four?”
Great point. Most people do not have the incentive or will to devote the kind of passion or enthusiasm that you would like at work. Their real passion lies outside of the working environment. They work to live, not the other way round.
The enthusiasm, loyalty and commitment you would like from team members can’t be forced on them. It only happens through a ‘culture of commitment’, where customer-facing staff reflect to the outside world the intense pride and ownership they are experiencing on the inside.
It’s what Vanderbilt professor Roland Rust calls ‘service climate’. He calls those attributes of overall workplace climate those that characterise how well-equipped employees are to deliver excellence at the point of contact with external or internal customers, such as adequacy of resources and equipment and job skills development.
Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration found that employees’ emotional commitment and sense of identity with the company is a key factor in providing excellent service.
And Henry Mintzberg, a key writer on all-things management, is quoted as saying, “Managers should function so that people can be naturally empowered. If someone is doing their job to an excellent standard, they should know their job better than anyone else, and so they don’t need to be ’empowered’ but encouraged and left alone to be able to do what they know best.” (Italics ours)
This means creating a Performance Partnership with your team. It means you are all in it together. And it starts with you.
As manager/leader of your team, you need to show the commitment to the business that you would like others to show. This commitment doesn’t mean you work all hours of the day and night; it means that when you are actually at work (whether it’s nine-to-five or beyond), you bring your enthusiasm and commitment to every minute of that time.
You should communicate openly as much as possible with your partners. The more they know, the more they will understand. The more they understand, the more they will care. The more they care, the more you can trust them. If you’re serious about forming a Performance Partnership, then you’ll share information that is relevant and also some that is ‘nice to know’.
You should appreciate everything your team does for the business. Giving a salary is the base level of appreciation. However, building praise and recognition into the way that you lead will enhance your relationships and build pride in what people do and bring to the business.
Listening to what is being said may seem a strange way to gain commitment; but, if you take on board others’ requests, identify why they feel the way they do, endeavour to change processes so they support the teams’ activities and create a climate of change that emphasises the attention to results, you stand a far greater chance of people offering their hearts and minds to the cause.
All this isn’t easy. As we said before, engaging employees so they bring their hearts to work as well as their minds, is not something that an increased salary or better perks will bring. No, they need to be encouraged to commit to bring excellence to everything they do. You can’t buy commitment; but you can provide the conditions and environment and atmosphere that encourages people to support the purpose and objectives of the business. Becoming Performance Partners together is the first step on that journey.
Head of Training
Originally published: 20 April, 2012
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