Team Member Engagement through Engaging Your Team

Team member engagement has been a topic coming up over and over again in working with our clients at Dale Carnegie.  One way for managers to increase team member engagement is by doing less.  Allow me to explain.

The role of a true manager almost doesn’t exist in this day and age.  Most every manager we come across has to be a manager as well as a doer.  This has benefits in the form of the manager staying more connected with the day to day workings of what is going on in their business on the ground.  It also allows them to develop stronger relationships with their employees, which can lead to increased buy-in and higher morale.

The flip side of that is that the manager stays more connected with the day to day workings of what is going on in their business on the ground, which can mean that they “know” the correct way to do things.  If their people don’t do it their way, then they are doing it wrong.  Most managers also don’t have an issue with telling their people how to do it the correct way.  Many times, we hear this referred to as “micromanagement.”  Doing  also allows them to develop stronger relationships with their employees, which can make having the difficult conversations that much more difficult.

One solution to this issue is what I stated at the beginning, do less.  Please do not read that and think that I mean, just stop working; or even that I mean you should start out doing less.  There is a method to my madness.  Here is a step by step process to get there:

First, you need to define what your role in your organization is.  If it is for a certain set of responsibilities, and you find that you are taking on much more than that, ask yourself why.  Is it because you are not giving up control?  Is it because no one else knows how to do it?  Is it because those responsibilities have never been clearly defined by anyone?

Second, once you have a clear idea of your role and responsibilities, you need to work with your employees to define their roles and responsibilities.  You will notice I said work with them, instead of tell them.  This is a huge difference in how most organizations are run.  The reason that we recommend doing it this way is because people participate in a world they help create.  People are much more willing to do something that they agreed to do then do something that they were told to do.  That one distinction can dramatically increase your team member engagement, accountability, morale and productivity.

Third, once they have their roles clearly defined you continue to work with them to develop objective outcomes for them to achieve in the future.  Again, this is dramatically different to how most businesses handle their employees.  A majority of conversations between managers and employees deal with what has been done in the past.  We are focusing on a well defined future.  Examples of this are:

Sales person: “I know I will be doing my job well when I have brought on an average of one new customer a month as of six months from now.”

Chief Operating Officer: ” I know I will be doing my job if I limit overtime to 10% of total hours during the fiscal year.”

Front Line Customer Service Representative: “I know I will be doing my job if I score over 90% on average on customer service surveys for my first year.”

All of these are objective.  You either are, or you are not bringing in six new customers in six months.  You either are, or you are not limiting overtime to 10% of total hours during the fiscal year.  They have an objective number, a time frame, they are specific and achievable.  For a more in depth look at these, you can read this article on goal setting.

So, this sounds like a lot more work.  How does doing this get you to my promise of you doing less?  Once your people have objective outcomes to work towards, you can step back and let them.  Make it known that they can come and ask for your help or assistance, but let them figure out how to do it.  You do not need to tell them exactly how.  You do not need to watch over them.  In many cases this has resulted in huge cost savings to companies because employees found faster, cheaper or better ways to do things.  In some cases, companies have found they were doing things that they did not even need to and they could better allocate their time and resources elsewhere.

At Dale Carnegie, we have been helping companies do this for decades.  I am personally working with a client right now who is doing this from top to bottom throughout their whole organization.  Even though we have just finished with only the top level of management, they are already seeing dramatic shifts in team member engagement and accountability.

If you are interested in hearing more or having us work with your organization, simply call me at 515.724.3163 or email me at Ryan dot Lynch At DaleCarnegie dot com.