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8 Effective Ways To Get Your Team More Engaged

Scaling / March 3, 2016 / Kristie

At the core of every great business is a great team. When you have people that are both talented and care about your business, they work hard to achieve results and go beyond what is expected of the average employee. Finding the right people for your business is only half the battle, keeping them motivated and engaged in the business is the other half.

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”
-Richard Branson

Illustration of a lake with five people roaming a boat, one directing the other four, symbolizing how to turn your team into a successfully engaged team

Once you’ve found the right people for your business, be proactive about keeping them by creating an environment where they’ll want to stay. The more engaged your team, the harder these people will work for you because they are mentally invested in the company. Engaged people work to develop new strategies to grow your company instead of just doing their job to maintain the status quo.

1.  Give them autonomy

This is an easy thing to say, but very difficult to do.

One of the reasons people start their own business is to be able to make the big decisions. However, this doesn’t mean making all the decisions. When you’re working with a team, there isn’t a single person that has all the skills for every facet of the business. This is why you hire people in the first place – not only to do work but to help you make informed decisions about things they specialize in and know more about than you. As a business owner, your focus should be on the “big rocks” and your team should have the autonomy to do what you’ve hired them to do.

You won’t always agree with them. That’s okay. Listen to them anyway. Give them the responsibility to make decisions based on their expertise. After all, this is why you’ve hired them – because they know more about this particular area than you do. Unless there is a compelling business reason or you have imperial data backing up your claim for not pursuing their idea, trust your employee.

When you give people autonomy, they’ll work harder because they know they are responsible for the work they do and the decisions they make. They may and most likely will make a mistake at some point. And they’ll learn from that mistake so the next time they’ll work harder. You’ve then spent that amount investing in them to learn a lesson.

There’s an excellent article written by Amy Rees Anderson on Forbes titled Good employees make mistakes. Great leaders let them that explains the importance of allowing employees to make mistakes and how they learn from them.

2. Reward appropriately

Engaged employees will often go above and beyond their duty. Show them that you are aware of and appreciate their added effort by rewarding them appropriately. For example, if an employee stays an extra hour to help a customer, saying “thank you” is obvious. However, if this is something they do regularly, what’s more meaningful – saying “thank you” or giving them a thank-you note or gift to show you appreciate their time?

Public praises also go a long way. As the saying goes, “praise in public, correct in private.” Public praising bigs up the team and lets that individual team member know they’re appreciated. Match your praises with a tangle reward. Gift cards, bonuses, a lunch out, or even taking a top sales person out to a baseball game are all ways you can show your appreciation. When good behaviour is rewarded, it encourages continued good behaviour. Rewards can also be additional responsibilities. If an employee is going above and beyond their job description, it may be time to reward them with more responsibilities because they’ve proven they can handle it.

3. Promote education within the team

A great way to get your team engaged is to encourage them to build on their skills and education. Promoting education in your business means you’re further investing in your employees and your employees are therefore further invested in your company. Learning new skills builds confidence in team members and of course, equips them with more skills. Paying for courses and additional training for your employees shows you’re investing in them and expect an appropriate return. You may have heard this example:

CFO asks CEO: What happens if we spend money training our people and then they leave?

CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?

Ask yourself what you want to get out of your employees. If you want team members that are motivated and proactive about growing your business, then they need to be learning and growing themselves.

“Train people well enough they can leave, treat them well enough they don’t want to.”
-Richard Branson

Encourage your employees to devote a specific amount of time each week or month towards improving a skills. This can be through reading, taking an online course, researching something in their field, or joining webinars. The more your employees learn, the better equipped they are to do their jobs. There’s always going to be new techniques, strategies, etc. so promoting continued learning amongst your team will ensure they’re up-to-date to react as changes happen in the market. The people that want to help advance your company are also the ones that want to advance themselves. Ask your employees what they are interested in and help them build on their skills so they can learn, grow, and add more value to your business. If you don’t, you’ll risk letting those motivated and engaged employees move on when they get bored.

4. Offer perks

The standard for any company is to offer free water and coffee. If you want an engaged team that will go above and beyond the call of duty, go above and beyond what’s expected of a workplace. When you provide extra activities, games rooms, free breakfast, etc., you create an environment where people feel relaxed, connected with their team, and are more likely to spend more time in the workplace. Instead of stopping at Starbucks, they’ll have breakfast with coworkers and this will foster relationships and creativity.

For example, Google offers free meals and snacks to their employees, and an employee commented that this allows them to save time and build relationships with their colleagues.

5. Set goals

People that are engaged come to work to make an impact. Getting paid is just a bonus because they can go anywhere to get paid. tweet this

To keep the motivation levels high, work with your team to set goals. And if you’re going to set goals with you team, you need to have rewards associated with each goal to give them incentive to reach it. When setting goals, make them realistic and make your team members part of the process. You probably have ideal goals you’d like them to reach, and they probably have goals of their own. Meet them in the middle so you’re on the same page about what is expected.

Most importantly, let them know how their goals and targets impact the big picture . This helps them put into perspective how they fit into the company and how they contribute to the overall success of the company.

6. Get rid of the rotten apples

One bad apple spoils a bunch, the same is true for employees. One employee’s negative demeanour and lack of motivation can negatively impact your whole team. Misery loves company so if you have an employee that isn’t happy, work with them to reengage or let them move on.

It’s pretty easy to spot a rotten apple. They’re the type of employee that does the bare minimum to get by, they complain about their job and resent getting additional work. They’ll complain to other team members about being unsatisfied and this can put a real damper on your team.

Once you’ve spotten a bad apple, approach them and let them know you’ve noticed that they’re unhappy. Find out the source for their “rotten-ness”. Do they not feel appreciated? Are they not happy in their current role or not like their responsibilities? The first step should be to get them engaged again. Maybe it’s making an effort to show they are appreciated. Maybe it’s moving them to a different team where they can utilize skills that they are more passionate about. Maybe they just need a new goal to get excited about or they have ideas of how you can improve the company. If that doesn’t work, your last resort is to remove them from the company. Maybe they’re just not the right fit and they’d be happier doing something else.

7. Encourage growth within the company

This tip for getting your team engaged pairs with promoting education and continued learning. In many small businesses, there may not be room for vertical moves, but moving horizontally is still an option. Find a way to make changes happen. You may have someone that’s interested in learning a new role such as sales or customer service in your company. Having overlap is helpful in a small business because you can shift and adjust people to different teams during busy times or when someone goes on vacation or a leave of absence.

Take the time to checkin with your team individually and ask what they’re interested in learning or doing. They may have a skill you’re completely unaware of that can be really beneficial to your business, or show an interest in learning about an existing area of the company to further their own skills.

8. Take a genuine interest in your employees

Lastly, if you want your employees to care about your business, show them you genuinely care about them as human beings with lives outside of the office. When you notice an employee’s performance is subpar for the past week or so, take the time to find out why. Is it that they’re not focused or interested in what they are doing? Is there a personal reason? They may have a child that’s sick, a pet that needs to be put down, or a death in the family. Being aware of these issues helps you to be more compassionate and empathetic towards their situation.

The only way to know this if you have a good personal relationship with your employees. Make an effort to get to know your team and be empathetic towards their personal lives. If they have a sick family member you can let them work from home during this time. If they’re going through a tough time personally, you can give them some time off to deal with any issues so they can come back to work fresh. Chances are, if their mind is elsewhere they won’t be too productive at work anyway. Try to be flexible and accommodating so you’re setting an example that your company cares about its employees. In return, your employees will respect you and work harder because they know they are appreciated.

About the author:
Kristie Holden is an online marketing consultant. She helps startups get more leads by clarifying their message and creating a marketing strategy to attract and convert their ideal client. Connect with her on Instagram.

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