HRO Today March 2016 - 40

Employee Engagement
they say it once, they're heard and they're understood. But
it does need to be reinforced. "
Example: A large telecommunications company was
strategically pivoting. Strategic priorities were changed.
" As such, they needed their managers to play a key role
because people just weren't getting it, " Bowness explains.
" They invested heavily in communications around four
strategic pillars [and] really word-smithed them out. But
at the end of the day, frontline employees had no idea
how they connected to making technological innovation
happen. "
Senior leadership had to step back and come up with
a new plan. They ended up investing in a learning and
development initiative to help create a clear line of sight
for employees. The result was a spike in productivity in the
ensuing 12 months. People were aligning their personal
goals to departmental goals, which then aligned to the
organization's strategic pillars.
5. When expecting feedback
There are moments in which workers will expect some
coaching and feedback. If they get it, they'll engage more.
If not, they may disengage.
" It's not really a formal program. It's just more of your
mindset that you have as a leader. You're a coach, and you
have to provide feedback, " Bowness says. " It's not just at
the start of a project, end of a project, or on a quarterly
basis, but ongoing-frequent touch points with employees
to ensure they're clear on expectations and that you're
demonstrating your support and coaching when you need
to. You're providing feedback to make sure they have
the skills and knowledge or expertise to accomplish their
goals. And also [making sure] that they have the time, the
resources, and maybe even the autonomy and authority to
make decisions along the way. "
Keys: Managers need to have the opportunity to develop
their coaching skills and may need to receive feedback
from more senior executives on how to best develop their
talent and keep people engaged. That being said, paying
attention goes a long way.
6. When others disengage and no action is taken
Engagement is contagious and so is disengagement.
Negative comments can poison a team, if they are
allowed to fester. But if negative comments are combined
with disengagement, others will see if the organization
[40]
HRO TODAY MAGAZINE | MARCH 2016
will respond. That lets them know what kind of team
they're on. If there's no response, disengagement can
spread and even metastasize. It becomes part of the
company culture. This is especially true if managers
express negativity, and regular coaching can help keep
managers positive, as managers seek to improve the
people around them.
" Investing time in coaching is time well spent so that you
don't have to course correct when performance doesn't
meet expectations down the line, " Bowness says. " Or
you've got a disengaged or unmotivated employee who
has low engagement, is not putting in their best effort,
and is potentially dragging down the people around
them, too. "
Caveat: Complaints may be legitimate and thus offer
an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. If the
complainer is seeking an actual solution to an actual
problem, then the managers can foster engagement
by addressing concerns. Similarly, a failed response can
double-down the disengagement.
Keys: Address negative attitudes as soon as they surface.
Determine if the problem is rooted in legitimate concerns
or in excessive complaining; if the person is a complainer
and the organization can't turn it around, consider
moving the individual out of harm's way.
7. Recognizing effort
People want recognition, and that can range from a
personal thank you from a manager to a bonus. The key
is that individuals want individual recognition. Everyone
wants a financial reward, but rarely do people only want
money as a token of recognition.
" Not everybody is motivated by money. They think,
'well, what's in it for me?' " Bowness says. " For many, the
incentive or the motivation is to be part of something
that matters. I worked with another organization to build
a rewards and recognition program and very quickly they
scrapped the word 'rewards' because rewards implies a
dollar value. And if you make people 'coin operated' in
that they expect a financial reward, or a gift card, or a
commission, or a payout every time that they go above
and beyond, then, if that [incentive] is removed, they
won't put in their best effort. "
Better: Customize recognition efforts as much as possible.

HRO Today March 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HRO Today March 2016

HRO Today March 2016 - 1
HRO Today March 2016 - 2
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