Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the concept of an “engaged workforce” isn’t brand-new information. Over the course of the last 10 years there have been thousands of research papers and studies highlighting the positive effects of the engaged employee.
Much of the research on employee engagement shows that engaged employees perform better than their peers. Engaged employees not only work harder, but also work smarter and are able to produce better results. Being fully engaged allows your team to get more out of their workday while feeling energized and committed to their work.
For many managers, we try our best to follow the many theories and guidelines to creating an engaged employee, but within my organization there is one method for improving culture that I believe is most effective.
What does an engaged workforce come down to?
Genuine communication. Communication is often the basis of any healthy relationship, including the one between an employee and their manager. A study by Gallup found that consistent communication – whether it occurs in person, over the phone, or electronically – is connected to higher engagement. For example, employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them.
But there’s more to it than that…
While regular opportunities to communicate are great, mere transactions between managers and employees are not enough to maximize engagement. Employees value communication from their manager not just about their roles and responsibilities but also about what happens in their lives outside of work. The Gallup study revealed that employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged. It makes sense doesn’t it? In life, when people show they care about you, you feel appreciated and tend to reciprocate similar feelings. That continuing rapport naturally builds a relationship that’s built on mutual respect and appreciation for one another. This works for both personal and professional relationships.
Try it out.
The next time you’re talking with your team, try opening up about your life on a more personal level. Obviously pick the time and place to share work-appropriate stories, but eventually you’ll notice a positive shift in the way you’re perceived as a leader. Leadership is not about pretending to be something you're not. It's just the opposite – since true leadership’s foundation is credibility, being a leader requires you to be authentic.