Note: I wrote this a number of years ago and was asked by a number of people recently for copies – thought it may be worth reposting. (The original was part of an e-book produced by the Employee Engagement Network hosted by David Zinger.)
Building an engaged workforce is perhaps the biggest challenge facing today’s employer. The benefits are well documented – increased customer loyalty, reductions in lost time and higher performance levels – yet cultivating an engaged workforce can be tough. Follow these ABC’s and perhaps look to deploy the aid of a Learning Management System for every employee to use, so your employees can follow and learn the ABC’s, to then apply and practice them in the work environment.
Here is the A to Z list about engagement from the eyes and hearts of employees to help you think about what needs to happen and where you need to focus your attention. Armed with these insights, you will be well on your way to building the engaged workforce you want and need. If you prefer, the A to Z list is also available in Polish by following this link.
ASK – Ask me questions, ask me for ideas, ask me to participate and you will get my attention and begin the process of capturing my heart.
BEHAVE – How you behave towards me, my co-workers and those we interact with conveys a great deal to me. When you treat me like an adult and someone who can contribute, and treat those around me in the same way, we can move forward. Treat me as overhead, as a resource or as human capital (whatever that is) and I will drift off to another place. Yelling, screaming or ignoring me except when I mess up won’t work either.
COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE – If you want me to be engaged help me understand what’s going on around here. Let me in on the context (another C) that led to or must shape our decisions. In other words, communicate with me. It’s from this foundation that you, me and others on our team can work together to clarify opportunities and determine how we will succeed. Let’s collaborate.
DELIVER – When you make promises or say you’ll get back to me or the team on something please remember that by delivering on those promises you are building credibility and trust. If we can rely on you, rest assured you can rely on us.
ENCOURAGE and EMPOWER – This is actually a pretty simple concept. When you tell me when I have done well, I smile a little more, I learn and I carry that perspective forward. Let me know that you trust me to get the job done in the way that makes the most sense to me and my smile will lead to a willingness to do more. Encouraging and empowering me are keys to my long term engagement.
FEEDBACK – Tell me how I’m doing. Not once or twice a year, but all the time. Tell me when you like what I’ve done; tell me what didn’t work and why. Providing both positive and constructive feedback (please don’t yell) on a regular basis will do so much to help me improve. You’ll be surprised at what can be achieved.
GOALS – Provide me with goals I can work towards. Better yet, let me in on developing goals that make sense to me, our team and the company.
HELLO and HOW ARE YOU? – Stop by now and then to say hello and ask how I’m doing, how my family is doing or to just talk a little about nothing overly important (did you know I play golf?). What could be simpler? It shows you care and, more importantly, it helps build that bond we need to enjoy our time at work.
INTEGRITY – Earn it, keep it and reap the rewards. I’ll do the same and so will our teammates. Just imagine!
JOURNEY – Just like the company, I’m on a journey so let’s find a way to connect the two. It will take some work of course. You’ll need to get to know me a little. Well, maybe a lot. Find out what you can about me and my own goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams – and where I hope my journey will lead me. Find out about who I am outside of work too. I will return the favour by getting to know you and your goals, hopes and dreams. And remember to also share the journey the company is exploring. Only then will getting engaged become possible.
KNOWLEDGE – Share what you know and allow us to share what we know with you. Ensure we share what we know with each other too. Then help us apply that knowledge in a way that leads to success.
LISTEN – Listen. Listen actively. Listen with your ears, eyes and mind. Let me know what you heard to check that what you heard is what I said or intended. When you do that, you will be surprised by what you learn.
MEANING – My work has to have meaning because I’m here for much more than a pay cheque or to spend my day with others. I want to contribute. Work with me to build that meaning and link it with our goals and you’ll really begin to capture my heart and mind.
NOTICE – Take notice of what I do and how I do it. Better yet, take notice of what our team does (individually and collectively) and give us credit for our efforts and achievements. It will go a long way. And don’t forget that taking notice means sharing what you noticed with me.
OPPORTUNITY – Use what you know about me and what matters to me and consider opportunities for me to get involved in areas I may not otherwise have the chance to get involved with. From special assignments, leadership roles and cross organizational work to training and development, I appreciate opportunities to deepen my capabilities and contributions – and I will succeed!
PASSION – Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.
QUESTIONS – Questions, questions and more questions. Ask, consider, answer, probe, challenge. Questions are the gateway to deeper levels of awareness, understanding, knowledge and potential.
RECOGNIZE, REWARD and RELATIONSHIPS – If we can have the ABCs of engagement then we can redefine the 3 Rs. Recognizing what I do and rewarding me appropriately are key to my level of engagement. Building a relationship on a professional and personal basis is a darn good idea too. Forget the 3 Rs at your own peril.
SMILE – A smile really does go a long way. Try one on for size and you might be surprised by how far it goes.
TRUST – Showing that you trust me and giving me a reason to trust you is perhaps the most important of the ABCs because without trust the rest is pretty meaningless. Remember that trust is earned over time and while it’s not hard to earn, once lost, it’s very hard to get back.
UNIFY OUR TEAM – Work with us as a team and let us work as a team (there is a difference). Allow us to share in building our vision and in setting our goals. Let us have some ownership and participate in the way that makes the most sense. Let us share our hopes, dreams and fears with each other so we can work together as one.
VICTORY – Celebrating our wins (large, small and anywhere in between) is important to us. It lets us know our efforts have paid off, that someone cares and that you’ve noticed.
WE – As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” We are here so let us in on what’s happening and we can succeed together!
X-TRAORDINARY! – The results we can achieve by working together will indeed be extraordinary so let’s try!
YES AND… not YES BUT – When you say “yes but” our conversations and my creativity shut down and that’s just not good. Next time try “yes and”. You’ll be surprised by where it may lead and how it will make me feel.
ZENITH – Follow the ABCs of employee engagement and my full potential and commitment will be yours!
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.