Today’s workforce is increasingly career driven and mobile. The focus on engagement and retention is stronger than ever before. There is an increased expectation on Managers to keep team members engaged – an engaged workforce is a retained workforce.
In the past, a manager’s reputation hinged on the results of the old-style Engagement Survey. We bring a different perspective to engagement and retention. The earlier approach disempowered people, leaving them without a voice. Managers often made decisions about what was important to employees without consultation.
A Different Approach to Engagement and Retention
Our approach to engagement has three levels.
- The manager’s responsibility is to foster increased levels of engagement. Their role is to understand what is important to the individual and discuss the mutual responsibilities for progress towards fulfilling the important expectations.
- The organisation’s responsibility is to recognise significant trends in both importance and fulfilment, and to act only where necessary.
The manager’s role in engagement and retention has changed and is more effective. Underpinning their responsibilities is the ability to have great, inspiring conversations with their team about
- what motivates and demotivates them,
- their expectations of the workplace (and their manager)
- and what frustrates them most of all.
We have brought together 10 things you should know about your staff to help build your confidence with these conversations, foster engagement and increase retention.
A Check List of 10 Things You Should Know About Your Staff to Engage and Retain Them
Motivation and Work Satisfaction
Work satisfaction is the first part of Employee Engagement. We know that when someone enjoys their work they are more likely to be engaged. Work satisfaction is highest when a person is able to use their natural preferences and talents.
Employees bring their best selves to work when they have the opportunity to use their strongest motivator traits at least 75% of the time. We call these their Life Theme Traits. Examples of Life Theme traits are enjoyment of decision-making, analysing facts and figures, being comfortable in leadership positions and enjoyment of challenges.
Each person will also have traits that they prefer not to use; they perform better if these traits are not required as a substantial proportion of their role.
- Identify the 5 Life Theme Traits for each team member. Craft their job to include opportunities to use each one.
- Also understand the 3 or 4 traits that each person prefers not to do for a significant amount of time.
An individual’s satisfaction is increased when they can use a range of their skills and talents at work. Morale drops if only a small proportion of their skills are used.
- Work with each team member to identify additional skills they most enjoy using that would add value to your team and the organisation. Create ways in which they can use these skills at work.
Engagement and Retention
Work satisfaction is not the complete engagement picture. Fulfilment of Employee expectations of the workplace are just as important. Most importantly, they build engagement and loyalty. Expectations are generally for benefits that assist work, career and personal happiness. Examples include opportunities for development, advancement, flexible work time, pay increases, and feeling valued as a person and employee.
- Identify the top 4 most important expectations for each Team Member, and their satisfaction levels. When an expectation is not fulfilled, discuss with the person ways in which they can work towards having it fulfilled.
Employees are more engaged when they can see a future for themselves in your organisation and they feel that you care about their career, development and advancement.
- Know the career aspirations of your Team Members, their proposed next role and the time-frame.
- Map out the knowledge, skills, experiential and behavioural gaps. Then discuss a development plan that will prepare the person for their next step.
Consider each Team Member’s preferred communication style so that discussions about work, feedback, expectations and engagement are more effective. Conversations that work best are agreeable, engaging and clear. However, each person’s preferences will be different.
- Understand your Team Member’s preferred communication styles. Do they prefer a frank or diplomatic conversation (or frankness combined with diplomacy)? Are you more frank or more diplomatic? How do they match? Will they become defensive if you are more frank than they prefer? How will you handle that situation?
- Understand your own preferred communication style. Do you prefer that a person is frank or diplomatic (or both)? What are your Team Member’s different styles – are they more frank or more diplomatic? How do they match? Will you feel defensive if they are more frank than you might prefer? How will you handle that situation?
- Understand the best way to give constructive feedback to each person, one that engages them in the journey of improvement. Otherwise they can become disengaged and their morale and self-worth can suffer. Some prefer frank and open conversations, some prefer a coaching approach. Others will perhaps be more sensitive to the way feedback is discussed.
Moving to Action
Finally, understand each person’s propensity for making a change as a result of your discussions. This will help you determine the need for follow-up and support.
- Understand each person’s propensity to take action quickly, prioritise self-development, tackle challenges eagerly, and to work autonomously without significant guidance. Follow up often with people who are slower to take action and work better with support and guidance. However, self motivated people will not need as much intervention.
How to Quickly Complete These Check List Items
I hear you sighing. It is not easy to accurately assess each of these items. You can gather data from available sources, eg. from your discussions during the Performance Management cycle. Individual and team interactions will add more information. You can fill the gaps by checking with individual team members.
There are risks with this approach, though. Two risks particularly stand out. Firstly, we make assumptions about people’s preferences and behaviours. In addition, our own preferences often bias our assumptions. The second is the reluctance that some people have to discuss topics they feel are career limiting. If they already feel vulnerable in the workplace they could be evasive despite your best efforts.