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HOW do I improve my team’s productivity & engagement?

I’ve ranted before about “employee engagement” and how the buzz word drives me bonkers (see previous posts!). But even though I disagree with all the hype surrounding the “importance” of employee engagement, I do agree that it’s a vital ingredient for high-performing teams.

CEOs and company leaders are giving orders to “build employee engagement” in an effort to increase sales and profitability.

The question managers (ie: the people responsible for making that a reality) have is: HOW do we get more productive, engaged employees?

You increase productivity and employee engagement when you have good supervisors.  Productivity and engagement go hand-in-hand, and neither happen with a crappy supervisor. So what we need to do is put people in supervisory roles that have the aptitude to actually get the job done.  Here’s some criteria that define the characteristics of a supervisor that can manage high-performing teams.

Credit to Wally Bock — This is an excerpt from his article, “Not Enough Employee Engagement? Blame Your Boss“.

Does he or she like helping other people succeed? A supervisor’s job is to help the team and its members succeed.

Has he or she demonstrated a willingness to talk to others about employee engagement and performance? This is a key part of any supervisor’s job. We can give someone the tools to do it better, but we can’t make them willing to do it.

Has he or she demonstrated the willingness to make decisions and take responsibility for results? How many supervisors have you seen who simply don’t decide? They buck the issue up the chain. Or they decide not to decide. Or they dump the problem back in a team member’s lap, then walk away with their hands in the air.

We need to give them training in supervisory skills. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, less than 10 percent of training budgets are spent on first line supervisors. Most of that is spend on how to fill out forms and classes on prophylactic HR. That’s not good enough.

New supervisors need some training in basic role identification. They need skills training in communication and confrontation skills. And they need help understanding their transition.

We need to support them in their work. Support means more training. The transition period, which takes 12 to 18 months, is the time when lots of small training sessions are needed. New supervisors also need to identify role models and mentors and learn self-critique skills.

After that, some form of peer support is vital. That can be a formal program in a large company or a joint program among smaller companies. In many cases, mentors and coaches are part of the mix.

We need to help them develop. One of the great things about supervision is that there’s always something more to learn. We need to help bosses create development plans and then follow them. We need to provide resources and point them to more resources.

The best way to leverage employee engagement is to have an engaged boss. There are “great places to work” with “pockets of awfulness.” There are horrid slave ships with beacons of excellence.

~Kristin

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