One of the traps I’ve seen plenty of leaders fall into is to treat employee engagement, particularly during change, as a tick-list exercise.
The thing is, your people are definitely not stupid. In my experience, employees can see through it as plain as day when engagement is not genuine. Best case scenario, in this instance, is people get irritated and just don’t engage. Worst case scenario is that trust is broken irrevocably and people start to leave because why would they work for an organisation like that?
Here’s a checklist to help you avoid falling into the employee engagement trap:
1. The invitation to engage should be genuine – do you really want to hear employees’ ideas and what they have to say?
2. The problem must be worth their time and effort – your employees are busy people, what’s the compelling reason for them to divert their attention?
3. The ‘contract’ is clear – in other words, you don’t say you want employees to help make decisions when all you really want is their ideas.
4. People must have the necessary skills and knowledge to engage effectively – this means giving employees info in a helpful way; and it means leaders ask open questions and listen.
5. Leaders must really want to engage and not simply indulge in it – your employees aren’t stupid. They will see any ‘engagement’ as the tick box exercise it is and dis-engage.
6. Give regular feedback – people will want to know how their contribution has made a difference. This will have the added bonus of encouraging them to engage further.
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