Jeffrey Sharpe is a Project Manager at one of my client organizations and someone that I’ve had the privilege of working with for several months. He is not only very good at what he does, but also a thoughtful and intentional leader, constantly seeking positive and productive ways to get more accomplished through others. When I asked him if he would contribute a guest post here on Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, I wasn’t sure that he would agree. But he did! His post below gives first-hand practical advice on how to build employee engagement, both now and for the long haul.
The Importance of Engaging with Workers at All Levels of an Organization
Have you ever wondered what your workers really think of your company? How they would improve it? What they would do differently? Have you ever wondered what your senior management is planning and how it could affect your career?
The answers to these questions are within reach, but only if you are engaging your workers and customers to solicit this information. You could ask them nicely, or demand they tell you. But either way, it’s difficult to seek the truth without each party sacrificing something in return.
When I was young, my father worked at a shipyard as a welder. He would tell me stories about co-workers that were frustrating to work with, bosses who had no clue what was going on with their own front line, and “The Engineer”, a fellow so out of touch with how things operated in the real world and at the job site, it would make your head spin. Naturally, after graduating as a Civil Engineer, I was given a speech that ended with “Don’t let that Iron Ring on your finger cut the blood off to your brain”. Now I could have taken offense to this message, or I could choose to learn from it.
Employee engagement only occurs when employees feel heard
My father had numerous ideas of how to improve the business he worked at, but never felt his ideas would be heard with respect and dignity. On the other hand, senior management likely never felt their workers were engaged with the company’s success, and that they only cared about money and themselves.
The truth comes from sacrifice, and how far you are willing to go to obtain it. Your workers need to feel connected to you so that mutual respect is established. Finding commonality can be challenging, but it is crucial to you gaining their trust. Acknowledge their ideas through active listening and give them credit for their work. This will allow them to share with you their passion for the industry. Once this relationship is established, you will be armed with both the ideas and the team capable of engaging your senior management. And your senior management will know you are invested into the company’s success and therefore will be open to talking strategy because you have the information that they need. Information is power!
When you are the conduit that connects workers to senior management and vice versa, you will have a firm grasp on how your company truly operates, and where you can help improve and stabilize your career. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you put in the sacrifice and effort to take care of YOUR yard, the grass will be greener on YOUR side.
I would love to know what you think, please add your comments below!
Well you heard Jeffrey, what do you think? Is this how one build employee engagement?