Sometimes it can seem counterintuitive that you need to take steps to get employees to be more productive. After all, isn’t that their job? If someone doesn’t get that being productive is what they should be doing all day, how can you persuade them?
But that’s just it — engagement is all about connecting an employee’s level of effort and level of output to your organization’s overall goals. It’s a rare employee who comes to work and doesn’t want to do anything. Employees want to be successful in their job; the problem is, they’re often hampered by their environment.
The purpose of your engagement initiative is to find out about that environment and how employees feel about it: what they need, what they want, what they do and don’t want to change. Through it all, productivity is tied to engagement, and vice versa. I’ve seen productivity grow through engagement efforts at clients’ organizations as well as my own company. Here’s how productivity and engagement are linked, and how by managing one, you can affect both.
The Mission Is the Goal
People like to get paid for their work, no doubt about it. But they also need to feel like their efforts are resulting in a greater good; otherwise they’ll just feel like they’re pushing rocks up a hill. Companies that have clear missions tend to have higher engagement and, as a result, better productivity, simply because people feel better about the work they’re doing.
Think of your own efforts: Hard work is worth it when you know the outcome is going to make things better, whether it’s a home improvement, a change in your health habits or a major project at work. When your organization has a clear mission and communicates that mission clearly to employees, it can serve as a guiding light for their own efforts and give them something to work for. Educate managers on how to tie employees’ work to the company’s mission, and get everyone pulling in the same direction.
Empowerment Leads to Effort
We’ve all had a manager at some point in our career who couldn’t wait to tell us what to do and how and when to do it — and then maybe erase our efforts and do it for us. Micromanaging is a huge productivity killer; why put forth effort if someone is just going to criticize and redo what we’ve done? Because managers play such a strong role in engaging employees, it’s vital that you train them to build engagement, not tear it down.
To do so, take the results from your engagement surveys and share it with managers so they can understand the changes that need to be made to boost productivity. Encourage them to speak up about possible solutions and to foster brainstorming among their direct reports. Give everyone room to try innovative new ideas — and to fail occasionally as well. When they see that you have confidence in them to change processes, projects and culture themselves, they’ll rise to the occasion.
Reinforce with Feedback
Giving feedback frequently is vital to boosting productivity through engagement, and it takes some practice to ensure it doesn’t spill over into micromanaging. The difference is that micromanaging tends to be a kind of nagging, focusing only on things that need to be improved and often in an arbitrary way. True feedback is constructive, specific and much more positive than negative. Train managers on the difference.
As you build a culture of feedback, you’ll find it gets more effective over time as employees realize it’s sincere and helpful. They’ll know that suggestions for improvement can help the entire company reach its goals, and that positive feedback is a recognition of their hard work.
The connection between engagement and productivity is a strong one. As you progress in your road map to engagement, you’ll find even more ways to connect the two.
Talmetrix is re-inventing how talent-focused organizations and their employees work together to fuel a culture of high performance. Contact us to learn more about our innovative solutions.
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