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Back to Basics

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.

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