Effectively Developing and Engaging Employees
This post comes as a edit and clean up of an email that was sent to an entrepreneur who was just getting his feet wet...we can go into much more detail for those that are interested.
Developing and engaging. The biggest underlying theme for engaging employees is not tracking their every move, or even their happiness, but to inspire them to do their job to the fullest extent and to do it well, and then enjoyment with their work will come. Employees that are properly engaged tend to be more effective and productive.
Transparency. For many years transparency has had a different meaning. Now employees consider insight into business performance and operations as a necessity to fully rally behind a company. Private companies are not required to publish financial information, however, those that choose to share this information internally with its employees have had better luck with either encouraging their employees or inspiring their employees to do better. This helps employees understand their contribution to the company better. Additionally, what is sometimes better insight than financial numbers is performance and operating metrics.
Communication. Employees need to be informed and feel involved. As a result, being transparent is fundamental. This can include periodic meetings or updates on the company's status and goals, these should be broken out both broadly and specifically, as to allow for celebrating milestones along the way.
Start early. Part of the continued employee engagement process begins with the hiring process and ensuring solid fits with respect to company setting and culture. This includes actively conveying the company values in the beginning and before hiring. Also, convey expectations and goals of the position. This will go a long way in making sure the overall engagement strategy is effective.
Team. Part of developing employees is to ensure they are not overworked. Ensure the proper team is in place, and that employees have the right support and are not understaffed. This includes recognizing when an employee does not fit with the team and being able to quickly and delicately remove that person.
Continuous feedback. Assess your employees and company constantly. Monthly, semi-annually or annually is not enough; if you wait that long to address issues your employees will lose encouragement and leave managers frustrated. Continuous feedback is difficult if only in-person meetings are used, many tools offer social based feedback and the easy exchange of feedback from managers. It is hard for employees to be able to make necessary changes and develop their skills if feedback is only periodic.
Objectives. Set expectations, reasonable and obtainable ones. This will allow employees to know what you expect, but also allow them to gauge their progress. Objectives should include development goals that come from feedback reviews.
Personal engagement. Have planned company outings, either dinners or team building activities. Also, do company lunches, even if catered into the office. These are great ways to build rapport with employees and help the company grow as a team. Being able to interact informally plays great to being able to provide useful continuous feedback.
Support. Employees should have access to managers when needed, and one-on-one meetings regularly. As well, companies should have company wide or department wide meetings. The CEO should also make appearances to inspire employees and reaffirm the company goals.
Promote from within the company. To properly engage and inspire employees, they must be inspired and feel they have something to work toward. Promoting from within gives employees incentive. Give your employees the opportunity to create a career path within your company whenever possible.
Give raises and bonuses. Obvious? Maybe. One of the best way to inspire employees is through bonuses and raises. Almost everyone is motivated financially to some degree, although this is only one part of the puzzle. Incentive bonuses can be useful if they are properly aligned, namely if they are based on company objectives.
Ownership. Employee engagement is only one of the key retention tools companies should use. Furthermore, use ownership incentives to inspire companies to become truly vested in the company. This includes stock and option grants, and if you have given someone equity based compensation in the past, but be sure to look at retention grants to offer them additional grants (either stock or options) after their initial grants vest.
Employee engagement tools. Yammer is an enterprise social network allowing employees to collaborate and share within their own tailored social network. This helps keep employees engaged by being able to see activity feeds of other employees, easily ideas and thoughts, offering encouragement and help where possible.
Rhypple is a performance management tool that helps companies engage with employees through social goals and continuous feedback. This tool provides the one-on-one coaching, as well as public recognition and feedback, that makes for positive employee engagement.
WorkSimple is another performance management tool focused on being social. Combing the ability to share social goals, rally around achievements, offer feedback and assess performance.
Leave any tools you use in the comments and I'll add them.