The Power of Leadership Behavior on Employee Engagement
Engaged employees care about their work, are committed to their organizations, and often give more than is required or expected. Employees want to feel pride, satisfaction, recognition, and support, but more than that, they want to believe that their work matters and that it resonates with their values. So what can leaders do to deepen employee engagement?
Employee engagement is "the positive emotional connection an employee has to their work and their workplace". But more than simply satisfaction, employee engagement is a positive connection to the work employees do and a belief in the goals, purpose, and mission of that work. Employee engagement studies and surveys consistently cite management and leadership credibility as a crucial factor in this connection. "If we don't believe in the messenger, we won't believe the message" is the underlying concept of the leadership practice Model the Way from the leadership model, The Leadership Challenge.
5 Strategies to Help Leaders feel more engaged and connected
There are several behaviors that effective leaders can model to their teams.
1. Show—and tell—your team their work matters
Whether you are on a virtual team, working remotely, or managing an in-person team in the 'new normal' — the nature of work has changed significantly. Brush up on having conversations that go beyond, 'Thank you for your work", and ensure that you:
- Are clear about the values of the organization and where employees fit into the big picture
- Talk about the meaning of work and how your team's contributions matter to the organization's overall strategy
2. Enable your team to feel more empowered and effective
Employees may have questions — and sometimes we don't have answers right away, but ensure you are encouraging and keeping lines of communication open:
- Take a moment to ask, and listen, to their point of view — what questions do they have?
- Ask your team for feedback!
- Give your team choices on how to do their job
3. Encourage innovation on your teamSometimes being innovative is easier said than done. It can sometimes be frustrating for employees to experiment or meet new challenges when the workplace feels uncertain and deadlines are looming. Be sure to:
- Encourage and reward employees who try new approaches and take risks— even if it means work takes longer
- Ask, "What can we learn from this situation?" when things don't go as planned (and what can we learn when they do!)
- Talk with your team about the possibilities of the future and how they imagine it
4. Encourage job growth
Today, with the rapidly changing business landscape, many employees are taking on new challenges— but many may also feel left behind. Ensure everyone has a chance to stretch their work muscles by:
- Providing challenging opportunities for employees to test new skills
- Support the decisions your team makes on how they do their work
- Set clear goals, plans, and milestones on projects to ensure understanding and buy-in
5. Stretch yourself to be the leader that they want to support and willingly follow
As we said above, teams need to believe in the messenger. Be sure your actions reflect your intentions and:
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect, equally
- Follow through on your promises and commitments
- Seek out creative ways to celebrate accomplishments