Written by Ingrida Bariene, Zyro’s People & Culture Success Advisor
Here at Zyro, we continuously try to think of new ways to include our team in the daily office life and boost employee engagement.
We encourage every member of ours to share ideas, learn and act them out. We also want everyone in the team to grow, see the big picture, own their projects, and take care of the organization as a whole.
At the same time, sometimes we stop them from doing these exact things, simply by not knowing any better. How ironic.
But how common is this obstruction of progress and greater employee engagement? And how can you avoid it? I’ll tell you all about it in this article.
Three levels of employee engagement
First, let’s define what employee engagement is and how we think about it here at Zyro.
We imagine an organization as a boat where our employees are the rowers.
How many are rowing so hard that their heart is racing and sweat is pouring down their face, determined but still smiling and having fun? They could literally be in the next Olympic games.
How many are rowing at a decent pace, but basically are just treading water?
And how many are bored, counting on others or looking to jump out of the boat as soon as they get the chance?
These are the three levels of employee engagement. The higher the engagement, the faster your team will go.
Or, if we talk about it in organizational terms, the higher the engagement, the faster your company will scale, overtaking competitors and innovating.
Plus, everyone will feel happy and valued.
Get and keep employees engaged
You, obviously, want to keep all of your employees highly engaged, working hard but being really content with what they’re doing.
You can achieve that through smart leadership and career path guidance.
Have a think: what does each of your team members simply LOVE doing? It should be something they find interesting and fun, but also challenging.
And don’t just see it. Act upon it.
No matter what your management style is – supportive, obsessed or result-oriented – you need to allow your employees to experiment with their current role or even grow into a different one.
Here’s how it works.
1. Recognize what someone is good at
Try to look at what they are good at, within the scope of their main responsibilities or beyond them.
Maybe they are supportive or listen well and can teach juniors like there is no tomorrow. Or maybe they can share knowledge and become excellent public speakers and thought leaders?
Have you ever thought: “Sarah spends too much time talking to juniors. Isn’t there a task that she needs to be working on instead? She isn’t performing at the level I’d like her to perform.”
Or: “Tom is always asking so many questions; he’s too slow for this job.”
If you really look at what the person is showing you by acting in a certain way, you’ll quickly recognize what the perfect career opportunity for him or her could be.
So, in the end, we get a Tom who got the answers to all of his questions, switched teams, and is now a super-smart senior developer.
Meanwhile, Sarah is a team lead in another company and it seems like her passion is to believe in people and help them grow.
2. Let them try and (sometimes) fail
Good leaders are those who can keep their team members engaged.
One of the best ways to do that is to let people try something new; maybe they are already doing it without you noticing?
Trust your team member, agree on an initiative, and formulate it as a specific task. Then, give them constant feedback as to how they are doing and how they could improve.
Never lower your high standard threshold.
There will be times when they fail, but often, lots of positive things will come out of it too, for example, higher competence, or even brand new knowledge and skills.
None of that would happen if we didn’t trust people or let them try something that plays to their strengths.
We do not create artificial lines that can’t be crossed.
3. Stay in constant touch
When someone starts working on something (completely) new to them, the rules, ownership, tasks, and results need to be discussed extensively.
However, as time goes by, we often forget to keep the lines of communication about all of those things open.
A good 1-on-1 meeting will help tremendously and should be held regularly.
Discuss what you’ve noticed about their behavior, acknowledge their effort, and be encouraging.
Also, agree on what needs to be delivered and what the KPIs are. Be candid and talk about their weak points too.
Explain the value of what they are doing and why it’s important to not just the team, but the company as a whole.
4. Give them kudos when they get it right
Hopefully, your team members will be improving as time goes by. Don’t forget to give them kudos.
You should be liberal with your praise, but only when the results are clearly visible and measurable.
It can be the little things: “I can see that the new standup technique really works great for us,” or “That new tool you were working on really helps our product stand out.” Or the big ones: “You inspire people so well, could you help this team too?”
Celebrate achievements within your team and in public.
That way, you will inspire others to also try out new things and the employee engagement will grow further.
How we keep our employees engaged at Zyro
Here at Zyro, we look at each individual employee and help them stay committed to the organization.
If need be, we help them reignite their passion for the company and the job by letting them switch teams and even responsibilities.
The job title doesn’t matter that much anymore.
Everyone’s responsible for the company’s success and if they can find a better way to use their skills than what they were officially hired to do, then hats off to them.
It has worked for us. Every single member of our company is highly engaged, not just sitting in the boat, but rowing energetically.
Will everyone taking on new roles succeed? Nope.
But it will ensure high engagement and give everyone a chance to prove themselves.