Smart leadership realizes that to increase employee engagement and productivity across their workforce they must look beyond salary, benefits and an occasional free pizza.
A savvy manager knows that today’s employees (not just millennials) place a high emphasis on:
- Their importance to the team;
- Entrusting them with information;
- Empowering them to make a difference;
- Cooperative feedback and mentorship;
- Appropriate recognition and reward.
In other words, they want to feel valued.
A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association reported the following comparisons of those who feel valued against those who don’t.
- Those who report feeling valued by their employer are significantly more likely to be motivated to do their very best (93 percent vs. 33 percent).
- They are also more likely to recommend their workplace to others (85 percent vs. 19 percent).
- On the other hand, those who do not feel valued are significantly more likely to seek new employment within 12 months (50 percent vs. 21 percent).
Think about that for a moment: Statistically, more than 9 out of 10 of employees who feel valued will channel those emotions into an enthusiasm and drive for maximum productivity (and quality).
Below are just a few suggestions how managers (and indeed all team members) can make each other feel valued.
Find out what motivates each individual
- Don’t assume you know what makes someone tick and certainly don’t make yourself the reference point for others (just because you like pizza doesn’t mean everyone does).
- Some like public recognition while others prefer a personal thank-you.
- Some want more responsibility for a job well done while others simply want more of the same that they know they can succeed with.
- Some want a day off to spend time with family while others prefer a $100 gift card for the local electronics store.
When you connect with someone on a personal level the trust and respect factors increase exponentially…as does the desire to perform at an even higher level.
Participate in proactive, frequent, two-way feedback
Without regular feedback and direction, employees will form their own assumptions of how they are performing to meet business needs. Managers and employees should meet at least every two weeks to openly discuss ideas, successes, challenges and other concerns.
When giving feedback, avoid phrases like “You should” or “Why don’t you” as that will be perceived as laying blame. Instead, invite feedback from the other party (see what we are doing here) by asking something like “What needs to happen so we can …?”
When receiving feedback it is important for the recipient to remember that the person (manager or colleague) has come to them because of their perception on how something has transpired. Even if the receiver doesn’t agree with that perception they should not get defensive but instead engage in dialogue by asking something like “I appreciate you bringing this to me, so let’s try and walk through this in more detail.”
Clumsy wording can ruin well-intentioned feedback whereas thoughtful communication can advance even a sticky situation.
Feedback is not just about being honest — it’s about being honest skillfully.
Inform and empower
Almost everyone today wants to hear and be heard. One only has to skim through any social media platform, listen to talk radio or participate in fantasy sports leagues to witness firsthand the desire to be fully immersed.
At all times (without breaking any corporate confidentiality rules), keep your team abreast of organizational and departmental happenings. The water-cooler and rumor-mill are two places that breed mistrust and kill productivity.
If you don’t already have a formal mechanism to solicit concerns from your team (and I am NOT talking about an annual engagement survey), find out what they are – on at least a quarterly basis. Then, collate the information quickly, identify key areas for improvement….and let them go fix it.
When you make people feel important, show that their input is vital and emphasize that they are part of a team that strives for continuous development…you will find success.
When employees feel valued their sense of self-worth and self-esteem increases. This is a key driver of loyalty, morale and effort. They will work more collaboratively, harness their differences, develop great working relationships and ultimately raise the culture and productivity at the local and enterprise levels.
Making the workforce feel valued is a very strong value proposition for any organization.
This article first appeared in TLNT (Talent Management and HR)