Looking to increase sales? Then focus on your customers and make them your number one priority, right?
This is a good strategy – but according to Dr Sue Mitchell, author of The Authority Guide to Engaging your People, putting employee engagement at the core of your business can actually attract and retain even more customers, raise customer satisfaction, and deliver even higher company performance.
A Swiss study into retail banking, published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, shows that positive job attitudes (i.e. happy staff) breed success, rather than the other way around. The study measured the organisational commitment (job attitudes) and two measures of business unit performance (financial achievement and customer satisfaction) over three years and found that employee job attitudes more persistently boosted performance than vice versa.
This is supported by another study from Gallup (bit.ly/galstat) that showed that organisations in the top quartile for engagement have higher profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and staff retention; and less absenteeism, safety incidents and quality defects.
Dr Mitchell recommends five ways you can engage your people:
1. Create meaningful work
Share a clear vision, purpose and mission formed around core values and set high standards. Translate these to daily behaviours and activities and ensure you walk the talk too! Each person needs to know how their role fits and contributes to the company vision so it feels meaningful to them personally.
2. Match your leadership style to each individual
One of the key drivers for high engagement is frequent high quality interactions with your immediate manager. Some ways you can ensure your interactions as a manager are high quality and engaging are to avoid micromanaging, use a coaching approach, ensure you understand each person's motivation, listen to their perspective, and give them opportunities to design how they will work to achieve desired outcomes (rather than you telling them how to do it your way).
3. Provide the resources people need – make it easy for them to deliver results.
Ensure organisational structure, strategy and processes support people to be effective rather than creating barriers and frustration. Ensure that your organisational structures can adapt to change and remain fit for purpose in order to support people and give them the resources they need to succeed. Set up ways to listen to front line employees for ideas on how to streamline, improve efficiency and effectiveness, align with company purpose and values, and reduce frustrations. Some organisations are finding it more effective to align certain processes around guiding principles and entrust employees to make their own decisions, with the power to take action within clearly defined parameters.
4. Provide development opportunities
Provide everyone with personal development for internal resources like confidence, resilience and emotional intelligence as well as technical and leadership skills that support their desired career progression.
5. Work to strengths.
Your strengths are the things you enjoy doing that come naturally, bring you energy and that you would choose to do. Anything you are good at but you wouldn't choose to do, or that drains your energy is not a strength. Building on strengths is far more productive than trying to fix weaknesses. Build your team around recognising strengths and matching roles to strengths. Build development plans around enhancing strengths rather than just filling in the gaps and developing weaknesses. When everyone recognises their own and each other's strengths and works to strengths, they are more committed, engaged and fulfilled.
I you want to raise performance, increase profits, and have customers that love you and recommend you – then be sure to invest in leadership development and coaching for your managers so they know how to engage their people.