Knowing the (people) score – top tips to make it ten out of ten

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Now is the time for engagement surveys in many organisations and therefore that time when an extra push often goes into communicating what has happened across a business since the last time people were asked ‘what do you think and feel about working here’. Strong people managers will also reflect on what more they can be doing to keep engagement levels high and thus constantly ensure their people are bringing the best of themselves to work each day.

However, with the pressure of work as relentless as ever in most firms, it’s the simple day-to-day behaviours that often slip in favour of ‘getting a task done’. Many leaders and managers that I work with admit to taking the eye off the engagement ball during the year and then wondering why their people survey results weren’t as healthy as they hoped. 

It’s my belief that line managers are the miracle in creating organisations that consistently outperform others. Therefore, the large town halls and virtual roadshows are important, but won’t shift the dial on performance if teams aren’t seeing great leadership at a local level.

It’s the small but significant things that make the difference to how people feel about their work and thus whether they will perform at their best or not. So, as we enter the season of measuring engagement, it’s worth reflecting about how much you’re remembering those small but significant actions that might just shift the dial. Here are ten questions to ask yourself.

  1. Do your team, and those around you, understand where the organisation is heading and why? Tell a story of how you see the direction and what contribution you see yourself/the team making.
  2. What are the other small yet significant things could you do to make a difference to people – how can you make the autumn the high point of other peoples’ year?
  3. Are people truly aligned and focused in your team? Reconnect and refocus people – call a team meeting and talk about what you’ve achieved so far this year as a team (show them they are valued) and WHY it’s so important. Discuss the priorities for the coming month(s) and what blockers might get in the way – then work on how to ensure the blockers are removed to be successful.
  4. Have you asked people in one-to-ones recently ‘what’s the one big thing you want to achieve before the end of the year’ and are you going about ways to help them make that happen?
  5. Do each of your team feel valued? I mean truly valued? For what do you appreciate each of them? What’s the contribution they make? Do they know how you value them? Consider how you can ensure each individual knows what value they add and that you appreciate them for that contribution. I’m not talking about a sudden awards ceremony here, but a quiet word, letter of appreciation or box of chocolates with an explanation of ‘why’ can have a big impact.
  6. When did you last review each person’s Personal Development Plan – are they on track to achieve the development they need and want?
  7. How often do you give the gift of time? So easy to talk about but so hard to do in practice. Carve out enough time to talk (and listen) to the people that you lead. Walk for a coffee – walk to grab lunch – use the gift of time over the next few weeks (and beyond) to make people feel valued. And don’t rely on doing it by chance – put it in your diary to make it happen.
  8. Do you discuss changes and ideas BEFORE they are made with your team? And listen/act on their feedback?
  9. Do you say good morning/good afternoon to everyone you meet – and use their name? It may sound simple but your energy is contagious and these small but significant, things make the difference. It’s noted if you don’t do it.
  10. What’s the one thing you want to achieve over the next few months? You need to be energised and focused personally, as well as worrying about others, so that you keep engaged. Identify it and write it somewhere you’ll keep seeing it.

Even those leaders that could genuinely do all of these things consistently also continue to find new ways to engage others. They know it’s a core part of their job – not in addition to their day job. They don’t just know what to do to get the best out of others; they do it. And you won’t be surprised to know, they are the ones that rarely get nasty surprises when the annual engagement scores emerge; usually with their teams showing a great flash of ‘green’ rather than red or amber.


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