Spokane Journal of Business

Coaching, employee engagement keys to success

Empowering workforce can aid customer service

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When studying the success of Fortune 500 companies or examining a list of the best companies to work for, there are many recurring themes. 

Some might describe owing their success to innovation or a complex acquisition strategy, but most also will include the importance of building a highly functioning team of engaged employees.

Employee engagement, according to CustomInsight.com, is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.

Managing in a way that is engagement-driven is a multifaceted process.

Engagement-driven management allows managers and business leaders to understand the people that are working for them better, place them appropriately, and retain happy, productive employees. The success of all businesses is largely reliant upon employee satisfaction, team growth, and retention.

There are five key strategies for proactive engagement-driven management.

Clarify roles and expectations.

Clarification begins in the hiring process and then continues throughout employment. As managers and leaders, it’s our job to ensure a crystal-clear understanding. Laying the foundation for successful employee engagement and setting the tone from the onset is critical to success. As part of the hiring process, evaluate candidates from the perspective of whether they seem to have the capacity to embrace what your organization stands for.

Part of the on-boarding process should be revisiting the organization’s mission or philosophy and letting the new hire know that part of being a successful, contributing team member is committing to measure his or her work in part by this philosophy.

Clarifying the employee’s role and the expectations of the position are key precipitating factors for engagement.

It’s important that each member of your organization understand the connection between the daily work they do and the big picture. It’s also important that they’re kept in the loop regarding successes and struggles and how they’ve contributed to them. Connect successes to the team member’s contribution and celebrate them. That acknowledgement allows the team member to feel appreciated and know that the work they do matters.

Know the people you manage.

As a manager or coach, you want to know how your team members learn and what motivates them. When you know this, you can tailor your coaching, making it more effective. When you know your team members, you’re going to know much more quickly if they are a good fit. You’re preventing resentment and general unhappiness from building and poisoning the overall morale and culture.

To build teams of engaged employees, we have to understand who those team members really are. Individuals possess varying perspectives based on culture, background, and life experiences and the more information we have, the better we can match their skills with specific roles within the workplace.

Provide skills and tools.

To develop a highly-engaged team, we must be certain to provide and enhance skills, tools, and resources.

That often means that your staff will need access to technology, physical resources and supplies, contact and direct communication with you, and additional resources based on your specific environment.

You must take into consideration the information they need, in their opinion, that will allow them to perform at optimum levels. But tools and resources are not limited to access or software. Building engaged teams means providing them with training and development opportunities to grow and improve. Engagement means you’re teaching team members about the value of a healthier internal environment, continual improvement, and their personal accountability to contributing to that healthy environment.

Empower your employees.

Employee empowerment is a management and leadership philosophy that supports and encourages team contributions to improve the organization. This means team members are empowered with skills, knowledge, and authority to make certain decisions, including a reasonable exception, when it’s in the best interest of the company.

It’s a delicate balance designing customer-friendly policies and procedures that also protect the organization from financial losses. It’s almost impossible to provide our customers with exceptional service if we haven’t empowered our front-line employees to deal with unexpected situations in a customer-oriented manner.

Organizations that empower employees function like a team and not a dictatorship. Empowered cultures usually have better employee retention which also works to build a strong team environment. This positive culture affects everyone from top management to external customers.

Coach and engage with systems.

The effectiveness of coaching can’t be overstated. It provides team members with the information, feedback and reinforcement they need, and it also provides coaches with a built-in opportunity to engage with team members. Ongoing coaching is much like eating healthy or exercising a little bit every day. It’s a commitment to excellence that produces results and minimizes the likelihood of encountering larger issues.

The topics you choose to coach on will vary from industry to industry. You will want to systemize those topics and the scheduling involved in coaching. Without structure and strategy, reaching your goals and creating a fully functioning team just won’t happen.

One critical aspect of coaching that all organizations should embrace is the value of expressing appreciation. An appreciation or awards program should be in place to celebrate the wins of your team and this, too, should be structured.

Applying the five key elements of engagement-driven management is a front-loaded process, but the practice has a significant payoff resulting in highly engaged employees that are more productive, motivated, and stick around longer.

Few of us get to spend 40, 50, 60 hours a week with our friends and family, but we easily spend that amount of time at work. Why wouldn’t you want that time to be the best possible experience, every day and for everyone? Happy, productive employees and the freedom that accompanies having engaged team members set us up for success.

René Johnston-Gingrich, of Spokane, owns Employee Engagement Solutions, a consulting and
employee-engagement training company.


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