The title of this article specifically states employee AND company engagement for a specific reason. Engagement by both of them is required for both to achieve a higher level of success. While a company may achieve a certain level of success without employee engagement, there is an untapped possibility for even greater success with engaged employees. Similarly, without the commitment and involvement of the company, employees will not reach their full potential. I realize the definition of success is different for each person, but let’s take a look at six reasons why these following factors are interconnected and how they play a role in some sort of measurable success for all involved.
1. Leader vs Management
Company Success: Having years of experience in both middle management as well as senior management, I have encountered countless examples of both effective leaders and inadequate bosses. One undeniable observation is that the key distinction between a leader, manager, or boss lies in their level of engagement. It is important to note that being a leader does not mean one is to be easy on everyone, nor does it require having the title of “manager”.
The most successful leaders are deeply involved with their employees, understanding their needs and how to bring out their best performance. By recognizing what is necessary for their employees to succeed in their roles, and making reasonable efforts to provide it, leaders ultimately contribute to the success of both themselves and the company.
As a member of management, I would make an effort to keep an eye out for employees who have the potential to be great leaders. One might say I was quite literally looking for my replacement. Encouraging these employees allowed them to excel, and in turn, made my areas of responsibility do better. For some bosses, this method can cause fear. They become afraid to let their employees excel for various reasons. This fear may stem from concerns about losing the employee to another department and then having to replace them, or fearing that they may eventually leave the company entirely. They may also be insecure and feel threatened by the employee’s superior performance. However, such apprehension ultimately backfires, leading to dissatisfaction, resentment, and potentially the departure of the employee anyway. This detrimental outcome negatively impacts both the company and its leadership.
Employee Success: An engaged employee demonstrates a strong commitment to their company and their manager. This level of dedication can be referred to as “buy-in”. They are more likely to step up as leaders, teachers, and team players. However, without a team mentality, the entire process can be derailed. If either party prioritizes their objectives over those of the team, they may still achieve their individual goals, but the potential for greater success through increased engagement is lost.
In contrast, an unengaged employee may be more inclined to betray their employer or share confidential information with a competitor. Engaged employees tend to exhibit greater loyalty and are willing to make sacrifices to contribute to the success of their company. This willingness to sacrifice sets apart a good employee from a great one.
2. Effective Communication
The individual my wife worked for considered himself a visionary, but unfortunately, he believed he was the sole visionary. He disregarded input from other employees and would dismiss good ideas, only to later present them as his own. This not only hinders effective communication but also prevents innovation and growth.
Company Success: Listening to ideas does not obligate a company to their implementation, but it does foster employee engagement. Plus it may be that one idea that sends a company to the next level or at least opens up possibilities that had not previously been considered. Encouraging employees to share ideas brings about engagement and the feeling of being valued. You might also discover who might be a future candidate for other roles and responsibilities.
Employee Success: Employees who neglect to effectively communicate their needs and desires to their employer or manager can severely hinder their personal success. I recognize that feeling at ease with a company or leadership is crucial to being able to express these concerns. In terms of what you have control over, however, it is unrealistic to expect success if the employee fails to articulate what is necessary to help everyone achieve their goals. This may involve informing them about the equipment or programs required or discussing career aspirations within the company. Frequently, when superiors are aware of employee goals and objectives, they can assist in reaching them more rapidly.
3. Balanced Company Culture
Company Success: The workplace indeed serves as a productive space where tasks are accomplished. However, taking this notion to an extreme, where employees feel unable to express their true selves, can result in a negative anticipation of any work-related interaction and cause a disconnect. Conversely, an absence of structure among employees can lead to non-compliance with company policies or ineffective management. You also cannot expect employees to walk a set of values if they do not see those values reflected within a company or the management that they put into place.
So, what is the optimal balance? This varies for each company, and it is crucial to determine where that lies for your organization. It could involve organizing regular company events, allowing employees to personalize their workspaces, or even something as crazy as installing a slide connecting different levels of the office.
Employee Success: When discussing “CULTURE” within the workplace, it essentially revolves around the employees. The way employees shape the perception and ambiance of a company to outsiders hinges on their actions. Their conduct plays a pivotal role in defining the company’s culture. If their actions and choices reflect negatively on the company, it influences how others perceive it as a workplace. While companies bear responsibility for cultivating their culture and setting boundaries, employee attitudes and behavior can disrupt even the most well-intentioned efforts of the organization.
4. Recognition, Growth, and Rewards
Company Success: There are several effective ways for employers to foster engagement in their employees, and it’s important to note that monetary incentives, such as raises, are just one aspect of this equation. Every individual is unique, and astute managers recognize which strategies resonate most with their employees to enhance engagement.
For some employees, recognition for their dedicated efforts serves as a powerful motivator. While they may still appreciate financial rewards, genuine praise, and acknowledgment tend to bring out their best performance.
Others are driven by the prospect of personal growth and advancement within the company. Some employees may even consider leaving an organization if they perceive limited opportunities for skill development and career progression. I knew a company that would only hire friends of the owner. These new hires were unskilled and lacked the knowledge of what the company produced. Yet they were given priority over that of experienced employees. Prioritizing personal connections over skill in hiring decisions can send a discouraging message to long-serving, knowledgeable employees.
It’s essential to understand that rewards extend beyond traditional bonuses. Rewards can encompass increased responsibilities, heightened trust, or greater autonomy within the workplace. Additionally, recognizing exceptional employees through initiatives like “Employee of the Month” programs or team celebrations can further enhance engagement and motivation.
Employee Success: Now, you might be wondering, “How can you contribute to recognition, promoting growth, and providing rewards to your company?” Here’s a breakdown:
- Recognition: Recognition takes various forms, and it starts with how an employee speaks about a company outside of working hours. Their positive comments, favorable reviews, and social media engagement all contribute to enhancing the company’s reputation and recognition.
- Promoting Growth: By portraying a company in a positive light, they can attract talent and interest from prospective employees and business partners. Their actions and words can inspire others to want to work with an organization, indirectly contributing to its growth and improved performance, which, in turn, creates more opportunities for everyone involved.
- Rewards: Rewards can manifest even at a basic level as company loyalty, demonstrating a commitment to the organization. Additionally, their actions can lead to external recognition for a company’s ethical practices, exceptional customer service, or designation as a “Best Place to Work.” They can also play a role in acknowledging exceptional individuals within the company, such as voting for a “Manager of the Month” who deserves recognition for their exemplary treatment of those under their leadership.
5. Respect, and Accountability
Company Success: One might assume that fostering respect would be straightforward for both parties, but from my experience, it remains a challenge on both sides. Respect necessitates a company recognizing that employees are human beings who need personal freedom outside of work. It also entails refraining from undermining the success of managers, teams, and employees. For instance, when a manager is appointed by senior leadership within the company, it’s crucial not to allow employees to bypass or overrule their decisions by seeking intervention from owners or other managers. Also, respecting employees means acknowledging their skills and knowledge, there is a reason they were hired for that position in the first place.
I once encountered a company owner who faced high turnover rates among employees tasked with cold calling, a sometimes challenging role. Surprisingly, the turnover was not a consequence of the demanding nature of the job. Instead, it resulted from the owner’s belief in a motto he lived by, which involved a highly confrontational approach. He felt the need to regularly, “Open a can of whoop@$$”, to remind employees of their position. This demeaning perspective led to employees staying for only weeks or a few months, preventing the formation of a strong and dependable sales team in the owner’s absence.
Accountability within a company can be both positive and negative when enforcing the organization’s policies. While it’s important to show understanding towards employees facing personal challenges, it’s equally critical not to give preferential treatment to certain individuals while repeatedly penalizing others.
In another instance, I heard of a company with a strict attendance policy for a weekly meeting, which is not uncommon. However, when an employee arrived late to one such meeting, the response was troubling. The employee was publicly instructed to sit in the center of the conference room, and those in attendance were encouraged to mock the individual. This humiliating act not only tarnished the company’s and managers’ reputation but also reflected negatively on the employees and passed along to new hires.
Employee Success: This should ideally come naturally to employees, but in today’s world, it seems that respect is often easier to spell when sung by Aretha Franklin than to put into practice. Demonstrating respect for someone’s position or authority can be challenging, particularly when trust in that person or their deserving of the position is lacking. Nevertheless, it’s essential to consider the long-term consequences: failing to show respect undermines the credibility of the position for future leaders and sets a precedent for how anyone in that role should be treated. This extends to refraining from belittling or disparaging others, whether to their face or behind their back.
Similarly, accountability closely aligns with this principle. If you choose to turn a blind eye when you’re aware of an employee engaging in theft or unfair behavior, you establish a harmful precedent that’s difficult to reverse. Upholding a moral standard, regardless of the circumstances, sends a powerful message to all. Strive to set an example rather than being an exception to ethical conduct.
6. Embracing the Big Picture
Frequently, we attempt to convey the “Big Picture” of a company through its ‘Mission’ and ‘Values,’ which are often displayed on office walls or buried within hiring manuals. It’s not that these statements are insincere; rather, they often lack the emphasis they deserve. Encouraging both a company and its employees to go beyond merely reading the company’s mission and values and instead embodying them is undeniably a formidable challenge.
Company Success: Companies don’t always possess a comprehensive view of the larger picture. You might assume they would, particularly if they aspire to expand and thrive, but that’s not always the case. Part of adopting a global perspective involves acknowledging that they aren’t the sole focal point in their employees’ lives. While employees certainly require employment, they also require a work-life balance. They may need to attend to family responsibilities, like taking their child to the doctor, and they might not always have dependable childcare arrangements. This doesn’t mean permitting employees to exploit situations repeatedly, but it does mean recognizing the practicalities of life.
When an employee finds contentment in their personal life, it invariably translates into improved performance at work, and vice versa. Understanding that a company’s actions and policies directly impact its employees, which in turn influences the company’s growth and success, is how an organization gains a broader perspective.
Employee Success: For employees, grasping the bigger picture can be quite challenging. We lead lives beyond our workplace, and during working hours, our primary focus is often on our own tasks, income, and performance. However, when an employee manages to embrace a broader worldview within their role, they begin to understand how all the elements intricately interconnect. They recognize that every aspect discussed above plays a crucial role in achieving success. These employees possess what is referred to as “The Buy-in.” They genuinely believe in the purpose of their work and for whom they are doing it. They transcend the level of just a “good employee” and are more likely to attain success. They tend to excel as team players and grasp how the company’s success directly correlates with their personal success.
In the grand scheme of things, neither employees nor companies are flawless. We all know of businesses where neither the company nor the employees are engaged, and they have a reputation for being horrible places to work. Often, in many scenarios, either the company or the employee is engaged while the other is not. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a company that actively strives for engagement with its employees, and employees make efforts to actively engage with the company, you will likely also find success. That is why I am so grateful to work at Buchanan Hauling & Rigging, Inc. and Buchanan Logistics where I am part of a team. For companies where only half of the party appears to be fully engaged, there’s no need to be overly concerned. Every journey begins somewhere. When either side decides to initiate engagement, significant transformations can occur, eventually drawing the other side into the fold.