Have you been involved in the employee engagement conversation?
Most large companies perform employee engagement surveys, or spend time and money identifying the level of employee satisfaction. And it’s because they know that disengaged employees can have a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.
But what happens when it comes time to put new strategies into place in order to increase your team’s engagement? What actually does motivate and engage your staff?
What is it that your team is actually looking for?
The four needs of all employees
Not surprisingly, the needs of employees are based on how people tick. They’re based on our human needs.
According to the theory of universal human needs, there are four needs of the personality that drive every single one of us, and tapping into those needs is a powerful way to keep your team motivated.
Getting those needs met underlies that sense of satisfaction, and meeting them in a quality way drives motivation at high levels.
The four needs are: certainty, variety, significance and connection.
Sometimes the past just seems to bubble up without you realising it.
I went to a hockey game last winter (ice, not field) and something strange started to happen: my Canadian accent made a firm re-appearance. I do sound largely Canadian normally, but with a certain Aussie twang after over 15 years in the land Down Under.
For some reason, sitting in the crowd of a hockey game completely erased any trace of Aussie from my pronunciation. Hands deep in my pockets against the cold and sitting on the edge of my seat in an Australian ice rink, I was suddenly Canadian again, in my heart, in my mind, and in my voice.
And I didn’t even realise it until my kids asked me why I was talking funny.
It got me to thinking: what other settings or situations have an effect on us that wrangles up old habits without us even realising it? If just being in a hockey rink watching a game can actually change the way a person speaks, even the way a person thinks, what else can bring up the past – and is it a past you want to bring up?
There’s nothing quite as predictable as the night sky.
Weather, shooting stars and airplanes notwithstanding, you can accurately predict, night after night, what you’ll see when you look up into space. So much so that you can purchase sophisticated telescopes that will virtually lock on to a star and automatically track it by following the natural curve of movement of that star.
The Journey of a Team
Every team also goes on a journey, only that journey is far less predictable than the nightly movement of the stars, and tracking the progress of a team can be incredibly challenging.
That’s why psychologist Bruce Tuckman came up with the four stages that a team goes through on its way to high performance. He called those stages Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
Whether you have a long term team, or people are brought together for short term projects and initiatives, here’s what you, as a leader, can do to support your team in a way that fits the stage the team is at.
What do you call a leader who jumps in to help at the hint of a problem in the team? A hero? A blessing? A godsend?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Your team probably call that leader a micro-manager.
And yet problems do need to be overcome. Just not always by you.
Here are three key questions you need to ask yourself before you wade into a sticky situation and send the wrong message to your team.
Has the team handled problems like this before?
If the team have handled something similar before – with or without your assistance – chances are they’ve got a shot at handling this one. Stepping in now demonstrates that you don’t trust them to do something they have experience in.
If the problem is significant enough for your attention, ask for an update rather than going into command and control mode.
They notice when something’s going well. They notice when it’s not.
They notice who’s engaged and contributing, and who’s disengaged and coasting, or even worse, disengaged and causing damage.
So it makes sense that if you could increase your ability to notice, you increase your ability to lead. A leader who is blind to what’s happening around them is like a faulty thermostat that can’t gauge whether the temperature’s hot or cold, and so never turns up the heat or adjusts the air conditioning.
Noticing is something we do all the time
No matter what your current level of perceptiveness, you can improve your ability to take in what’s going on by understanding the process you already go through in order to notice something.
Each of the four steps of noticing is something we all do anyway. We might not, however, do them in the right sequence, or we try to rush through a step when we’re stressed, unsure, or short on time and patience.
Here are the four steps of noticing, and the mistakes we sometimes make around them.
What’s the one thing that you have to do in order to keep your team moving in the direction you want them to go?
Watch any mother duck and you’ll notice that when she’s sitting down, her little ducklings can be found scattered within a safe distance, doing as they please. But once mother duck stands up, gives a quack, and starts to walk, her little ducklings line up behind her.
Imagine saying to a group of people “follow me!” and promptly sitting down to have a think while they stand around waiting for you to show them the way. Leadership without clear forward movement is like a well-thought out basketball game where no one ever picks up the ball.
Here are three simple steps to get you from overthinking – and losing the attention of your team in the process – to leading the way with an action focus.