Why Improving Employee Engagement Starts with Leadership
As work environments become increasingly digital, and the percentage of digital natives among the workforce continues to grow, it follows that the path to engagement is also digital.
But leaders at every level of an organization face a paradox. For the sake of efficiency, they want their employees to work diligently without distraction. Yet, for building a healthy and harmonious organizational culture, they want those same employees to be fully engaged with the brand, their customers, and each other.
That said, it’s easy to see why Charlene LI, Founder and CEO of Altimeter notes on a podcast recording, that employee engagement is at an all-time low. She also discusses ways for leaders to improve employee engagement by becoming engaged themselves.
Choose an Objective
Choosing how to engage can be a daunting task for leaders who are not digitally inclined. They know how to lead, but their workforce is not following them on social. When considering digital engagement as an option, leaders can be concerned that it will be a time drain, and with good reason. Focus is essential.
Typically, leaders have a short list of objectives they focus on with passion. In choosing to become engaged, leaders should choose one objective from their short list and engage employees on that objective alone. Leaders need to get things done. Focusing engagement on one objective can help them.
Beyond that objective, cut out the noise and irrelevant chatter. On that one objective:
- Listen carefully to what employees are saying to become and stay informed
- Share content purposefully in order to shape the relationship with followers
- Engage with followers to transform the relationship between leader and followers
- Transform the organization by leading it toward achievement of the objective through engagement
To move beyond the somewhat generic nature of the above four bullet points, leaders need to define what engagement means in their organization. They can start to do that by answering a few questions.
- What’s the right technology to use? (Usually, it’s one your employees are already using.)
- If the leader doesn’t already know how to use that technology, who will teach them?
- What impact should this engagement have on the brand as a whole?
- Do other units/departments in the organization have experience with this? What can be learned from them?
- Aside from the leaders and employees directly involved, should vendors and/or customers be engaged as well?
- What will be the impact on customers, if any?
One Leaders Transformation from Unengaged to Engaged
In the podcast, Charlene Li related the story of a conversation with GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt. While at GE to speak with someone about digital engagement, an area at which GE was already working to become a trailblazer, she turned to Immelt and said, “Wait a minute you’re not engaged. What about you?” After first trying to fend off the remark by saying that was someone else’s job, he realized that if GE was, in fact, going to be transformed from the inside out, that he would have to lead the change.
That’s a lesson all “not yet” engaged leaders can take to heart.