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If You Want to Create a Culture of Engagement, Get 5 Key Issues Right

Article from Patrick Leddin (www.patrickleddin.com). Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University, a consultant and a writer.

Are you effectively engaging both the passion and potential of your people in order to bring out their very best?

As a leader, the engagement level of your people often comes down to how you interact with them, and how you support or hinder their development. I have noticed that great leaders, no matter their level in an organization, ensure that 5 key issues are addressed and necessary programs are in place to foster a culture of engagement.

To help remember the 5 programs, I’ve structured them with the first letter of each program combining to spell out the word STARS.

As an individual leader, you can be the catalyst to help your organization get these right. However, I encourage you not to wait for the entire organization or some other department to put these programs in place or to get them right.

You can start today to cover down on the basics and care for your people in each area.

Here are the 5 key elements, a brief explanation of each, and questions for you to consider as you assess your current performance:

  1. Selection & Orientation
  2. Training & Development
  3. Accountability & Performance Management
  4. Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)
  5. Succession Planning

1. Selection & Orientation

Imagine what it is like to be the new employee who shows up for her first day at the office and finds herself with no building access, an unprepared workspace, and no clear plan for the first few days of work. If you’ve had more than one job in your life, you can likely relate to the different ways organizations select and orient their people.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you and your organization have a clear process for interviewing employees?
  • Is there a documented and consistently followed process for on-boarding new people?
  • Are new employees quickly and professionally oriented to your team and the broader organization as to have the biggest impact from day one?
  • Employees understand from the first day what is expected of them?

2. Training & Development

Many teams and organizations approach training as an event. Employees attend training workshops and then go back to their daily work applying little of what they learned. This typically doesn’t happen because the employee is a bad person or lacks the desire to improve. The outcome is often a result of treating training as an event – not a process and development as a function of circumstance – not a deliberate process.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you wisely and effectively use your training resources (e.g., funding, facilities, etc.)?
  • Do all employees on your team clearly understand the training, education, and experience requirements required as they progress through their careers?
  • Does your organization have an effective means for measuring return on its training investment?

3. Accountability & Performance Management

People should come to work each day knowing where they stand. They shouldn’t be confused as to what is expected of them, nor should they be unaware of how well they are performing. This means that the organization needs to set and communicate clear goals, encourage employees to connect their daily work to the overarching goals, track progress openly, and ensure that leaders and team members work together to ensure accountability.

Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have a clear performance management process that leaders consistently use to assess individual performance?
  • Do all employees on your team understand how the organization is performing on its top priorities and how individual contributions align to top goals?
  • Do you recognize and reward performance?
  • Are you and other organizational leaders capable and comfortable with providing candid performance feedback?

4. Relationships (Coaching & Mentoring)

People want a voice and a sounding board. Look for opportunities in your organization to establish both coaching and mentoring programs. Don’t confuse the two. They aren’t the same. A good coaching program establishes relationships where the individual employee is able to explore situations, develop options, and ultimately discover for themselves the best route forward. Coaching isn’t about telling – it’s about allowing the employee to uncover for themselves the way forward. Mentoring programs allow more junior employees the chance to learn from seasoned workers. Unlike coaching, proteges do receive guidance and direction from their mentors.

Consider these questions:

  • Does your organization have an active and effective mentoring program to connect and develop employees? If not, what can you do?
  • Does your organization have active and effective coaching program that allows employees to dialogue with a third party coach where the sole purpose is to help the employee unleash his or her highest potential? If not, what can you do?
  • Are all your employees encouraged and provide time to develop mentoring and coaching relationships?

5. Succession Planning

Whether you are a team of 10 people or an organization of 1,000s, you should take the time to assess future vacancies and how you will fill them. Are you grooming bench strength that can step up and fill key positions if they go vacant or are you going to be caught flatfooted? Things happen, people change jobs (today more often then ever before). Take the time now to map out which positions will turnover in the short- and long-term and create a plan of how you groom people for future success.

Consider these questions:

  • Do you and the broader organization avoid having key positions unfilled for extended periods of time?
  • Is there an effective succession process in place that gives leaders and high potential employees a career path to future job positions within the organization?
  • Do you transition key employees well? Who is leaving next?

To help you get started, I’ve created a quick STARS assessment that you can print out, distribute, and share with your team. Use their feedback, coupled with your own thoughts, to improve how you approach each of the 5 areas.

More information on www.patrickleddin.com.

Read also: HR Execs: Wake Up To Employee Engagement!

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