So it’s being talked about in a huge way. Again. Seems to come around every few years. The reason? It isn’t solved yet and many business people feel it’s getting worse. What is this illusive employee problem? It is employee engagement.
In the discussions on Linkedin and other places there are many different definitions that have occurred about what employee engagement is and why should anyone be concerned. The concern should be there because we are talking about the people that take care of the customers. If these people (employees) are not engaged the customers feel it and know it. This has been called customer service but this is incredibly more.
Now I know that it is going to be said by some to have a committee look into it, or let’s have a survey, or perhaps get into small discussion groups, measure, and then a plan will be made. I know that things need to get measured at businesses but there are times to just go back to basics. Managers can tell from observation just how involved or uninvolved a work group is being. Much like morale employee engagement is identifiable. Maybe managers might need a little direction on what to look for but if they know their people they will be able to identify when employees start to disengage. At least enough to see that further investigating might be in order.
The emphasis should be on the frontline and should be done through the frontline manager. This manager is the one that will accomplish employee engagement through actions and beliefs. Belief that his or her team is the best, is capable, that knowing the team is crucial, and actions of praise, caring, training, mentoring, coaching to name a few. But this manager needs to have the tools, techniques, and mindset to get this done.
It cannot be accomplished simply through task driven activities. There must be a relationship and the allowance for this manager to think, to defend the team, to have the time to spend with the team, to give attention, to define the common goals, and to be the professional coach. It is pretty common knowledge that frontline managers get the least attention and much is expected. They have the most effect on the frontline employees yet often do not have the freedom to try new things.
Back to basics is what occurs when things have gotten off track and yet greatness is what is wanted. The basics here are building a team, defining the roles of the team, giving some freedom, training new mindsets, relationship building, showing the importance of each role, getting rid of blame, thinking how far a team can go, striving to make a difference, and putting incredible energies towards the customers.
Engagement can be talked about forever and if history is telling that’s seems to be what has happened over and over. The companies that go after employee engagement are the ones I believe will be far ahead of the companies that ignore it. Polls have already indicated that CEO’s are dissatisfied with the frontline from around the world. There will be some companies that make the news on how they cared enough to develop their frontline managers in a more proactive way. What this will take is making sure that the training is completed through the implementation stage and follow-up occurs regularly.
Customer excellence is the goal. Employee engagement is a must. Frontline manager training should be a priority.
By business articles and experts like Harvard Business and the Fiscal Times reputation is brought up over and over. Though in many cases not directly said reputations are being discussed. Even though employee engagement, motivation, spending cuts, and asking more may be the topics, the reflection is on the companies. Here’s an example. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/01/21/Too-Cheap-with-Your-Valued-Staff-Know-the-Risks.aspx
When the economy is poor the companies are in even more power. Really where is an employee going to go? The perception is there are no jobs out there. But as stated so well in the above article there will be repercussions. But instead of employees leaving let’s talk about when they quit and stay.
If employee disengagement is getting mentioned this is really about employees doing the least or minimum in their jobs. In other words they are getting by. It’s not bad enough for termination and it’s not good enough for recognition and praise. For various reason but mostly because there is now a dis-connect from their manager or company and there is a feeling they are not cared about. Thus the response becomes quitting, well as much as is possible and still keep the job.
There is a lot of talk happening about employee engagement because it has huge costs. There are the monetary costs of course but there are also the costs in poor customer service, employees being indifferent or showing frustrations, customers leaving, employees leaving, and yes the company’s reputation.
What the discussions need to start focusing on is the ways to correct this. This is not and will not be a quick fix. Nor should it be. Once the training has been done to the front line managers and the employees are responding with more engagement there must also be an emphasis on the maintenance of the team.
Everything a manager or business does affects the reputation. And employees notice.
There’s an interesting thing that happens with humans once they know a job or task and they feel they know it well.They start to get bored or take it for granted. Whereas initially there is a challenge to learn the job, eventually it becomes second nature. Maybe humans are wired that way so we keep going after new ways and new sights. Whatever the reason, as the job gets commonplace and boredom sets in, people will find different ways to fill the time. They still do the job, but it no longer requires the intense focus it did during the learning phase, and it takes less time than it once did. So now they look for other things to fill the time.
It is interesting to watch a group of people that are becoming bored or things are just status quo even for a couple of days. The work has probably slowed somewhat so the pace of work has become less. Without intervening, just observe what occurs. Some employees will sit around making comments about how they are so bored, while others will walk around the complex and talk to anyone who will listen. Some will start to clean up the office even to the point of sweeping and dusting. Some will start to rewrite paperwork to make it look neater in their minds, and some will ask for something to do
Most of the time people do not like just sitting around. It doesn’t feel so great to be unproductive and the time goes very slowly. However, handing out non-relative tasks is not a good idea because employees will see and resent this if the work is not productive in some way.
Even when work does not slow down it is the same job in the same way Every day and this becomes boring or perhaps it is too familiar. The more thinking that is taken away from employees the faster boredom grows. It isn’t that the job is not liked or even enjoyed, it is more that there is no challenge.
The ramifications of this are that before a manager knows it people are leaving and saying they got a new job. Or even though people have stayed and are still a part of the team the enthusiasm seems to drop along with drops in energy. Some of this can be seen in a change in body language as compared to when the employee started. The excitement in starting a day seems to get less and less. The walking paces are slower, there’s a kind of hanging around and nothing seems crisp. The workplace has become too comfortable and too well known.
The regret may simply be that the team and the people on that team have never gone after and reached their potential. The regret might be that the team is sluggish. The regret may be that the team never went for becoming more. It could be that the team has settled for getting the job done in a very average and common way. The regret might be that the team could have achieved everything and yet fell short.
Probably though, things have become commonplace. If boredom is seeping in it is because it has not been looked at or people have become too accustomed and a little blinded. Status quo is not the way to achieve greatness. Risking and trying what has not been done before is the way to go to the next level.
You are the only one that can live your life. No one can live it for you.
You cannot live someone else’s life.
And no one can dream for you. You must have the dream and them go after it.
But don’t go it alone. Have support from others.
But in the end —- your life is yours.
Sometimes it’s great to say thank you for what is coming!