Managers and leaders often moan about the fact their team members don’t seem to be ‘engaged’ and ‘motivated’ at work. Their biggest moan seems to revolve around how so many people show lack of commitment to the company values, or simply switch off when asked to contribute more energy in projects.
Why do people seem to lose that initial drive and energy that they bought with them when they started in the position? Why would they accept mediocrity from themselves as time progresses?
The biggest factor that seems to drive engagement in an employee is their direct relationship with their boss. So, if you lead a team, you can ask the question, ‘What can I do to increase the opportunities for people to engage at work?’
Work engagement is defined as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption. Vigour is characterised by high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and persistence even in the face of difficulties.
Dedication by being strongly involved in one’s work, and experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. And absorption by being fully concentrated and happily engrossed in one’s work, whereby time passes quickly and one has difficulties with detaching oneself from work (Schaufeli, W.B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., & Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of Engagement and Burnout).
What specifically can you do, then, to drive these internal factors and encourage people to become more engaged at work? Here are four factors that might help:
1) Adequate, Frequent and two-way Communication. This is the glue that keeps people working and looking forward. You don’t need me to tell you how important the level, style, type and frequency of your communications can have a massive effect on the way your team will commit to quality in their jobs.
2) Ongoing Growth and Development. Learning their job and everything that goes with it should be the barest minimum expectation, both from you and the team member. In order to feel that they are able to commit further to the company, a team member has to feel there is real value in what they are doing and how they are doing it. This involves being able to grow in the role, become better at it, identify how to improve and see real worth in expanding their skills and talents to achieve more. This will encourage commitment and energise their efforts.
3) Appreciation and Recognition. This is more than just please and thank-you at the appropriate times. It involves you as the manager putting the focus on encouraging them to fulfil their potential. People are motivated when they see their work is recognised and can advance in their role. Finding things that you can commend people on, without it sounding patronising, will encourage them to take more personal responsibility for the quality of the work they put in.
4) Trust and Confidence. Having trust in your team member will help them see what value you hold for you, the department and the company. As that trust is built on, your team member will build their confidence in you, their role and their future potential within the company. All of this builds reasons for them to show more commitment and boosts their drive and motivation in the future.
By showing how much you value them, you give support to their need for recognition, you heighten your communication process and you contribute toward their growth, learning and development within the role. You will quickly see their motivation and engagement improve as they sample the results of taking personal responsibility for their performance.
Head of Training
Originally published: 7 May, 2014
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