3 Ways To Keep Your Team Members Engaged (And The #1 Mistake To Avoid)

I was quite shocked when I read that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 44% of Americans left their jobs last year.

Yes, some people retired or chose to leave to pursue their own interests, but about half of the 44% left for other reasons.

This is a sign of our competitive environment.

And in such times, keeping your employees motivated and excited about their job is a critical challenge for all managers.

Your workplace is full of smart, ambitious and hard-working people who want to contribute to the company’s success. No one starts a new job on Day One and feeling demotivated…

So how do we keep their motivation and engagement up even months or years into the job and even when times are challenging.

What I’ve found over the years is that one of the biggest frustrations employees experience that keep them from being their best, most productive selves at work is a lack of clear expectations.

The only thing more discouraging to an employee than being unable to complete a task due to poor direction is then to also feeling blamed for not having done it the ‘right’ way!

Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence one of the biggest mistakes managers make that leads to disengagement.

Clear expectations are a reflection of clear thinking. For managers, this means you must not only take time to identify and explain expectations but go a step further and make sure you are being understood.

Now, here are 3 ways to keep your employees engaged and motivated.

1) Create a crystal-clear path for advancement

Organizations are complex so you need to provide your people with a clearly defined map for advancement. Let them know what milestones must be met and how far they must go to achieve them.

Is mastering a skill enough? Are they expected to take on additional roles within the department? Should they join an association or step up to participate in or lead company-wide initiatives? Are all efforts weighted equally or are there “must do” and “never do” activities that, ultimately, will make the difference? Let them know!

These are just a few questions employees have as they try to effectively allocate their time and resources around their already hectic schedules. When you offer clearly defined, written expectations you provide a realistic sense of what needs to be done and in what timeframe.

For example, if employees are expected to lead a project on their own, help them identify specific goals and objectives. Most importantly, spend time discussing what a successful deliverable should look to ensure a common understanding of your expectations.

2) Involve employees in decision making

When you hire new employees it’s because you see them as a good fit within the organization and as someone who can contribute to successfully achieving your goals. So, doesn’t it make sense to tap into that knowledge and experience to get their input?

Employees are your front line and have the most direct contact with customers, product issues, and so forth. Benefit from their wealth of information by involving them in decision making!

Stop by their desks and ask their opinions, send a survey seeking new ideas or have a monthly “idea-fest” to address existing issues or throw out new ideas.

I promise you, this will increase the engagement your team members demonstrate.

… And increasing employee engagement has multiple benefits. Engagement builds trust, improves morale and creates a positive environment. Also, when employees recognize that you value their input, they are more comfortable coming forward which allows you to head off problems before they get out of control, or to gain a competitive advantage by implementing a new initiative.

3) Provide regular feedback and encouragement

Praise and recognition are crucial for increasing employee productivity and engagement.

Take a moment to think about the last time you offered positive feedback to your staff. (If you have to give it some thought, chances are it’s been too long!)

Companies with the highest levels of employee engagement provide recognition to employees at least weekly. In return, those employees have higher productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction, which means they stay at the company longer.

The key is to have frequent, informal check-ins provide steady useful feedback. This will allow you to set expectations or make adjustments to projects that are in progress, offer feedback and clarify future direction.

To sum it up, managers must learn to articulate their expectations and let employees know what successful implementation looks like. Plus, the more employees can be involved in idea creation and decision making, the higher their engagement and motivation will be.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. In such cases, employees may have to initiate the discussion if they are unclear or struggle to understand your direction. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such a request, accept it gracefully. Remember, an ongoing dialog between managers and employees promotes collaboration, innovation and strong relationships and isn’t that the real goal?

If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your team members engaged and motivated then let’s chat. Click HERE to schedule a call for us to talk about what that could look like and mean for you.

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