If you aren’t a regular Apple store or Zappos’ customer, you may not have experienced one of the higher forms of the engaged employee.
More often than not, you may have experienced the opposite.
Many employers still don’t recognize the multitude of valuable aspects of having employees who are interested in their work and the customer – internal or external.
And, the engaged employee doesn’t have to come from reading a manual.
Employee engagement is actually a two-way street.
You can help people realize and own the choices they have – you don’t need to have all the answers.
I recently overheard this comment: ‘When you focus on the problem, you get no engagement. When you focus on solutions you get progress and engagement.’
One of the simple keys to employee engagement is to ask them better questions. Of the many employee engagement roundtables that I have conducted, close to 100% of them worked well when people are asked the following simple questions:
‘What works in this organization?’
Why? Instead of probing for the problems, most of which we already know and certainly will provide little insight, have them notice what they are doing right.
Build on each of their points with either, ‘tell me more,’ or ‘how did you manage to do that?’
Start with the little things – dig deep on them. Then, watch the bigger ideas and insights emerge.
Once you’ve exhausted the questions in this part of the conversation, you can move to the next one, which is:
‘Even though, like most businesses, things can get messy, it does sound like a lot’s working around here. So, what could we do better, more of, or slightly differently?’
Why? While this may sound like you are going to get in trouble with a load of complaints, you’re not. The first section will reframe the dialogue so that people want to be constructive in what ‘needs to get better.’ Notice that you’re not asking, ‘what’s wrong?’ which looks backwards. You’re asking them to look forward to things getting better.
You’ll find that their former complaints start to sound more reasonable. You are now ready to ask them, ‘Suppose we made progress on some of these issues, what would be happening?
Followed by, ‘What would you see management doing to help make that happen?’
Followed by, ‘What would you see yourself doing to engage in that change?’
And, ‘What would one small step forward look like?’
Why? Because staff can self-engage in the solutions.
Will this change staff engagement overnight? Possibly. Better to keep asking these questions over time and watch what happens. It’s all about fully engaging staff in the solutions they want.
This article was a redux of a blog I wrote for Shawn Murphy and Ted Coiné in 2012.
More on employee satisfaction (click picture)