When employees are engaged they are emotionally attached to the vision of the organization. They believe in what they do, the organization’s vision and the direction the organization is going. Employees who are engaged put their heart and soul into their job and have the energy and excitement to give more than is required of the job. Engaged employees are committed and loyal to the organization.

This the penultimate entry in my series on morale killers.  Click here to read the post that introduced this series.  Scroll down to see what’s new today.

  1. “Organizational leadership is responsible for communicating the vision and keeping it in front of the employees.”
    My organization adopted a new vision last year.  It was announced with great fanfare at our annual sales meeting but since then it has drifted into the background.  Promoting and reinforcing an organization’s vision and mission does not have to induce groans or seem patronizing.  If the vision truly reflects the priorities and culture of the organization then it should be an easy “sell” and encourage employees.  The key is doing it the right way and for the right reasons.  Subtle but sustained focus can make a big impact.  Supplementing informal messages with intentional efforts to incorporate the vision into everyday activities will further infuse the organization with the message.
  2. “Good communication within the organization can be one of the most important things an organization can do to foster employee engagement.”
    I have a saying, “you can’t over-communicate what’s important.”  That sounds like an over-simplified cliche.  Yet every organization I have worked for or project I have worked on has missed this point.  When times are tough rank-and-file employees need to hear from their leaders…frequently.  And I am not talking about employee meetings, which have a place, but informally.Leaders need to be visible and available.  Taking an hour once a week to walk through cubicle land means a lot to the rank and file.  Simply showing genuine interest in the people who are in the trenches is meaningful and translates to commitment and trust.  Tough times means everyone has to put in extra time and work under tight timelines.  Employees who feel a connection to their leaders will be more engaged.  Work assignments that come from distant unseen leaders have the opposite effect.
  3. “Strong employee engagement is dependent on how well employees get along, interact with each other and participate in a team environment”
    I’m not saying everyone has to be friends but the nature of the interaction has to be genuine and authentic.  Some of this goes back to the frequency of the communication but it also has to do with the nature of the communication.  Focusing exclusively on action items and deadlines and never considering the other things that are going on in people’s lives is a morale killer.
  4. “Employees are constantly watching leadership to see how their decisions affect the strategic direction of the organization and if their behaviors reflect what they say”
    I am sure everyone reading this blog has seen a leader who does not practice what they preach.  Its hard to stay positive when the news always seems to be bad.  It takes discipline to maintain your composure in trying times.  Everyone has to work hard to remain professional when times are hard.  I am not saying a person has to ignore the obvious.  Quite the contrary.  I believe a person can keep their cool better if they acknowledge that times are tough and routinely take stock of how they are handling the stress of the situation.
    I have seen leaders press on with their agenda despite having no indication that things are improving.  This can reflect confidence but can also make them seem aloof and possibly in denial.  Leaders need to be aware of how they are perceived.  They need good and trusted partners who provide this information.  What’s more they need to act on the information, which illustrates the second point, and communicate with their employees.  Leaders need to be visible and available. Their presence has a calming effect and builds morale.
  5. “Employees need to feel validated and that they are a valued part of the organization.”
    This does not mean elaborate signs of recognition.  Make it personal.  Don’t rush it.  As a department head, make a mental note when you learn something significant about a direct report.  If that doesn’t come easily start by writing down something significant about each person on your team.  Take time to acknowledge it with the person.  They’ll be shocked (in a good way) when you ask about it.  Be respectful of their preferences.  Some people don’t want to be recognized in front of their peers (that’s me) while others are comfortable with that type of recognition.
  6. “Employees need to feel like they are part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter and that they have a voice in how their work is performed”Morale suffers if a person always feels like something is being done to them rather than with them.  All organizations need a hierarchy and they cannot be run democratically.  However, there is also a point everyone can make a contribution that will improve the final product and that point varies depending on the project or skill-set of the individual.  Nevertheless, everyone loses together when an organization fails to meet goals and/or expectations.  Since this is the case shouldn’t everyone get an opportunity to apply their unique talents to prevent this from happening or, even better, contribute to its success?

    By contributing I mean more than simply delegating tasks.  I’m referring to a mindset.  You can tell leaders who are truly open to ideas.  They are energized by new ideas instead of threatened by them.  They seek input rather than simply providing it.  They find resources to support worthy ideas instead of hoarding them.  They recognize and compliment team members who make meaningful contributions.  They motivate through positive messages rather than fear.  People want to be around them.