The essential keys to employee engagement - Business Works
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The essential keys to employee engagement

Adi Gaskell L ast Friday saw the release of a new report on employee engagement by Management Lab co-founder Julian Birkinshaw. The report was sponsored by employee engagement poster boys HCL and provides managers with insight into both what makes for engaged employees and how managers can move from knowing to doing.

The research found that good managers tend to do the following three things very well:

  1. They pushed decision making down to employees;
  2. They communicated the meaning of the work being done loudly and clearly;
  3. They provided support when it needed.

Alas, unfortunately there is often a stark gap between knowing what is right and doing what is right. After all, most of us know that smoking is bad for us, yet still many millions around the world persist with the habit. Itís an issue discussed in depth by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton in their book The Knowing Doing Gap.

The report provides some tips on how managers can take knowing what to do and turning it into actions that get results.

  1. Seek out opportunities to walk in their shoes: Management by walking around is not a new idea, yet few managers actually practice it. Try things like reverse mentoring, doing front-line work or skip-level meetings.
  2. Package work into projects: Project work provides strong intrinsic motivation.
  3. Get to know your employees properly: Only if you know your employees well can you align their strengths to the tasks they need to do. To often employees are asked to do things that don't align with their strengths.
  4. Deliver high quality employee experiences: This means going beyond the basic 360 appraisals and give people opportunities to raise concerns whenever they arise.
  5. Turn your employees into advocates: The report compares modern approaches to marketing with a desirable approach to management and, just as marketers want customers to become advocates of a product, so managers should look to turn employees into advocates of their employer. To measure this they suggest using the Net Management Promoter Score (NMPS). This is basically the percentage of your employees that would recommend their manager to others minus the percentage that would not.


This guest BW Brief is by Adi Gaskell, a management writer for Professional Manager magazine.



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