Over the past few posts, we have been writing about employee engagement and ensuring that people are truly connected in the organization – not simply via electronic means (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). Additionally we talked about giving employees the autonomy to drive change in the organization by offering a clear vision and purpose across the group. A third critical area required when building an engaged culture are both constancy and consistency – ensuring that processes is ongoing and is genuinely consistent.
In many instances, the only time that an employee has a true conversation around their performance or the direction of the company is during some type of annual performance/merit review. Companies rely on these reviews as part of the annual salary treatment program and then put the conversations back on the shelf until the next review cycle. While the corporate mantra is that they support ongoing development of their employees, the process isn’t consistently managed across the organization.
In order to build a truly engaged organization driven toward success, communication and interaction with the team needs to be an ongoing activity and not simply a prescribed corporate process that must be followed. It must be a part of the daily activities across the organization and show that leadership is truly “invested” in each individual’s success as well as the profitability of the company.
I recently participated in this annual ritual. As many members of my team were new, I invited their previous manager to sit in and review performance. I began with an outline our expectations and how we would collectively contribute to the overall success of the organization. To my surprise, a number of people took offense to my clarity on ways we could improve and took it as an insult to their performance – even though all of the information pertaining to performance was very good. What I learned from this process, was that the previous manager never truly outlined expectations and goals for each individual and didn’t manage the process constantly through the year. While I take this aspect very seriously, the previous manager took the process as an annual edict versus an ongoing engagement process.
While I am not a Seattle Seahawks fan, Pete Carroll seems to follow the philosophy of working with his team on a consistent basis to drive not only their best performance, but also the success of the team. After his team’s recent win over the 49ers and earning a trip to the Super Bowl, coach Carroll stated the following about what he attributes success to – “It comes down to taking care of the people in your program and making them the best they can be – not giving up on them and never failing to be there for them.”
Here are a few key activities leaders can take to ensure they are constant and consistent in their development of the team:
- Understand that each person brings a different value to the program – While official job descriptions make each position look “cookie cutter”, as leaders we need to understand that each person brings a unique value to the organization and we need to help each person develop separately to succeed. By understanding the uniqueness and establishing targets & goals that fit the individual, they will become more excited and engaged with their role in driving success.
- Establish a cadence of updates and communication – Whether weekly or monthly, establish meetings with individuals on your team to discuss progress towards their personal success. Offer personal feedback on strengths and areas to continue to improve.
- Make it less of a review – Don’t formalize the process and make people feel as if they are under a microscope and need prepare a formal review. Leverage it from a conversational perspective and allow them to drive the message. This will help them communicate and allow you to understand their concerns and areas of focus.
- Be there – Make sure that you follow through with your promises and that you are there to support each person individually. The less people feel like a number, the more engaged they become.
In order to drive continuous improvement across your organization, at both the personal and professional levels, you need to be constant and consistent. By focusing on these 2 key factors, your team will be excited about their purpose and know that you truly care about them as well as the company. This will improve engagement and performance.