For employees to do better, we as leaders and managers have to be better. We hold the power to engage and empower our people - to Advocate. Believe. And Communicate. These ABC's are not new. We know them at a gut level. But consistently implementing them is where we struggle, given our workdays are often filled with dozens of competing priorities.
It's not that we don't know the right things to do to engage and develop our people, rather its 16 other urgencies that result in us moving off tasks whose delay do not appear to create immediate consequences - like catching up, recognizing, or coaching. But there are cumulative consequences, especially when you consider that what you accept, becomes acceptable - so pushing aside personnel-related interactions once, makes it only easier to do so again, and worse, models that as acceptable behavior to those who report to you.
Many feel engagement comes from being inspired. I believe inspiration is an emotional reaction, instant, but typically short-lived. Motivation on the other hand, is deeper, formed based on beliefs, and is therefore more enduring. So engaging employees is really a question of, how do we help develop that deeper motivation that fuels commitment to a cause, driving ongoing presence, accountability, and excellence? We engage at a human level, and we engage first, every day, and in earnest. Meaning, we connect personally, sharing time and conversation, asking questions in order to demonstrate interest, understanding, and appreciation, and we model vision, drive, commitment and collaboration. And we refuse to sacrifice interpersonal and developmental time and attention, except in the case of truly urgent instances.
If we advocate our people to themselves and others, believe in both their capability and their potential, and communicate consistently, openly, and with interest, transparency and inclusion, then we can align their intrinsic motivation with organizational goals and causes. Priorities shift constantly and that will continue to happen, but even if you cannot spend the time you had planned, at least take a few minutes to reach out, explain, and reschedule in order to preserve the person's commitment and sense of being valued.
If knowing the right thing to do meant we always did the right thing, none of us would ever need training, coaching, or correction! So, find ways to DO what you know - apply the ABC's of engagement every day, and employees will give back tenfold, in attitude and engagement, and in accountability and productivity.