There are a lot of things businesses can’t control: their competition, federal and state regulations, costs, etc. But there is, according to Gallup’s Stephen Shields, one factor that companies can influence and that’s their own human capital.
During a keynote address at the 2017 BizConCLE, Shields said the best way to manage this variable is by doing their best to engage the employees they have on staff. He defined the difference between an engaged employee and one who is not engaged as being the percentage of time they expend what he deemed “discretionary effort.” That is, that little something extra that isn’t in an employee’s official job description, but something they decide to do anyway on their own to help their organization.
So, how do you create an environment within your business that encourages this engagement? Shields laid out five tips.
Tip No. 1: Focus on the immediate supervisor of your employees (not the owner or senior leadership.) When Shields was a call center supervisor, for instance, he put on his calendar everyday that he would spend seven minutes each day walking the floor and talking with his direct reports on a personal level to establish more of a personal connection. This level of connection is important, he said, because people are emotional creatures, and not robots programmed to simply do a task.
Tip No. 2: Keep things simple. Ask these direct bosses, what is one thing you can do to better engage with the staff (such as the example listed above.)
Tip No. 3: Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them. That you listen and take their opinions to heart. You provide the resources to your teams to get the job done. And your employees understand the company’s mission and why certain actions are being taken.
Tip No. 4: Weed out people who aren’t going to be an engaged employee early on during the interview process. (Shields said it takes four engaged employees to make up for one actively disengaged worker.) Ask them during the interview what the most challenging thing about their last position was and how they handled that challenge? If they make excuses about that position, chances are they’ll make more excuses if you bring them onboard.
Tip No. 5: Hold everyone accountable. Don’t let your staff get away with not doing their jobs because that type of attitude will rub off on their coworkers.