The Secret of Employee Engagement by Mark Wager

The Secret of Employee Engagement by Mark Wager

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The secret of employee engagement revealed

By Mark Wager

I was with a business organisation last week that had just received their employee engagement results. For those of you who haven’t been exposed to Employee Engagement surveys, it’s basically an indicator of how connected the employees are to their organisation. As the Managers went through the results there was a range of emotions ranging from pride to disappointment, even downright depression. The results were not what they had expected and as a result they buried their heads in the mountain of data that the survey produced in the hope that if they analysed each line they would find the answer as to how to motivate their employees. As I watched the flip charts and whiteboards fill up with ideas and suggestions I thought of my very first Manager of many years ago.

When I was eighteen I had started working in retail, a shoe shop to be precise. I had aspirations to be a leader and I asked my Manager for some tips to which he replied ‘happy employees make good employees.” The Manager was basic in his approach. The motivation of people is a complex subject, more complex than I can place in an article but in essence he was correct. He knew something that is now confirmed by mountains of employee survey data that people don’t want to come to work to be miserable and very rarely do they come to work to do a bad job. People want to be happy and Managers seem to unwittingly find ways in order to prevent that happiness. Employee engagement surveys are a vital tool for any business but over-analysing each line of data can steer you away from the simplicity of employee engagement that makes your company a mechanism to help staff achieve their ambition to be happy rather than the barrier that prevents them from becoming happy.

In simple terms if you want highly engaged employees you need to align their personal ambition to be happy to your organisations’ objectives.

In order to do this you need to know something that I have developed and that is the secret of employee engagement and that secret is:


Now you know the S.E.C.R.E.T of employee engagement let’s look at each one in particular along with some of the specific leadership actions that go along with them.

People need to feel valued and have a sense that there is a reason for their job existing and there's a reason why they are in that job rather than someone else. They are aware of what value they bring to the table and that value gives them a positive image of themselves.
Leadership actions: Praising staff, rewards, celebrating success, linking tasks to overall organisational objectives.

People need the power and belief in themselves to be the makers of their own destiny. I've always believed a sign of a good leader is not only knowing when to stand up and lead but also when to sit down and get out of people's way.
Leadership actions: Ensuring systems are working and manuals are up to date. Delegating responsibility rather than tasks, involving staff with decisions that impact on them.

This could easily also be C for certainty. Fundamentally we haven't changed that much since we were babies. If we get a positive result for a specific behaviour then we repeat that behaviour yet if we get negative results then we change the behaviour. People need to be aware of what is expected from them and the consequences of their actions. People need clarity in order to make the correct decisions.
Leadership actions: clear performance plans, job descriptions, consistent approach to managing performance.

The most motivating factor for people in teams is their connection to their colleagues. Visions inspire us but it's our connection with people that turns that inspiration into constructive action.
Leadership actions: regular team building, people are aware of each other's duties and their impact on everyone else.

By engagement I mean people learning challenging new skills, variety in their workplace. People by their very nature seek out to grow and develop and when that need is not met motivation diminishes. Employee engagement tends to be high when a person starts with a new employer and tends to fall with every proceeding year. An excretion to this is with more mature staff typically aged 55+.
Leadership actions: clear development plans for each staff member with their career path aligned to the organisations objectives.

This is the simplest and most obvious motivating factor but the most difficult to learn. You can teach people the theory of employee engagement and you can teach them the basics of psychological behaviours within teams but it's difficult to teach someone to be honest. The best you can do is to manage the consequences of their honest or dishonest behaviour. People want to believe and trust their leader, if that trust is lost then the leader is only a leader in name.
Leadership actions: Regular meetings, Transparency of decision making, introduce "skip" meetings which are meeting between staff and their Manager's boss once in a while.

This is not a comprehensive list but just an overview of the complexity of employee engagement and how some simple principles can motivate a team to reach a level that they never thought was possible. So remember whenever you are trying to solve the riddle of employee engagement just remember our little secret.

Significance, empowerment, clarity, relationships, engagement, trust

Now it's your turn to become an inspirational leader.

Elite LD Limited offers a range of services that can turn smart, determined people into world-class inspirational leaders. A leadership consultancy firm based In New Zealand Elite LD provides team building workshops as well as specialised one-on-one training for anyone who is seeking assistance in developing all the necessary skills required to be a quality leader. Contact Elite LD today in order to find out how you can become an inspirational leader.

This article is taken from the book The Elite Guide To Leaderhsip now available at Amazon for $2.99USD

Mark Wager is available for individual Executive and Leaderdhip Coaching. Use the enquiry form below to book a free 20 minute strategy session.

Posted: Monday 5 May 2014


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