Ok. I’m just going to go straight for the jugular. In the world of work today, employee engagement is NOT the problem. Leader disengagement is the problem. When I hear a leader talk about “our employee engagement problem,” I want to slap him or her and say, “Wake up! Leadership, or a lack thereof, is the problem, not your employees!"
As a leader, if you think you have an employee engagement problem, then you need to look in the mirror. If your employees are only giving the minimum amount of effort on a daily basis, it’s because of the culture you created, or the culture you let develop.
Which means that whether you know it or not, or whether it was intentional or not, the current culture in your organization is a direct result of your leadership. Every action that you take, every interaction you have, influences your team’s sense of engagement and belonging.
When you watch your people, what do you see? Are folks happy with the work they do? Is collaboration happening in an environment of mutual trust and support? Do folks come to work each day with a sense of anticipation, looking forward to another rewarding day of work that they will be proud of when they go home? Whatever the answer you come up with for these questions is, it’s all because of you and the way you treat your employees.
Each and every day, people are watching you. They notice if you come in happy or stressed. They notice if you are kind to those you interact with, or if you are short with them. They notice if you are sincerely interested in others. And they take their behavioral cues from you. If those cues are bad, then those cues are spread throughout the organization, like a bad infection.
So, if you want to improve your employee’s engagement, start with improving your own engagement efforts. Be intentional in all of your interactions. Also, be respectful, curious, and vulnerable. But most importantly, be loving.