As a business leader, you want a high performing team that is there no matter what. Needs no drilling, committed to the job, and constantly learning and improving. Many leaders, regardless of industry, would agree that having the right attitude is more important than technical skills, in a lot of cases.
As you know, technical skills can be taught, but attitude – not so much.
How’s your working environment?
You might be killing the motivation of your team without even knowing it. Or, you might have a toxic work environment that you’re not even aware of (if you’re not dealing with the day-to-day, how would you know?).
Yes, employee engagement has become a bit of a buzz-phrase.
But what is an engaged employee? Are we looking for someone who is staying on for the long term, is inspired to work, keen to learn more, given ample opportunities to develop and feels supported by their team and managers? This requires give and take on both sides.
A team that works well together and gels, both on and off the playing field, is one that achieves results.
A high level of employee engagement is closely tied to business outcome – so creating a positive culture and a well-functioning team is imperative.
Here’s what to focus on as a business leader:
1. Build a diverse team
Different points of view are a good thing. This is good to keep in mind when hiring as perhaps as a business owner you’re looking for people that think and act exactly like you, assuming that this would profit your business. But, this is not only very difficult to find, it just doesn’t make sense for business.
Building a diverse team, including people from different backgrounds, experiences and from diverse cultures creates an environment where you can benefit from different points of view.
2. Appreciate your team
When managers don’t recognise or reward hard work, this makes employees want to do less of it. In the long term, people can become uninspired and apathetic. It can be as simple as saying “thank you” for a job well done, and adding in performance related bonuses certainly helps.
People want to know they’re doing a good job and are valued on a consistent basis. If they’re doing well, simple words of encouragement are easy, inexpensive and motivational methods of encouragement.
3. Always put the team first
If you’re after an effective and creative company culture, your staff has to be your main priority. Albeit, many companies put customers first, which is a usual business strategy but if your own nest isn’t in order, how will you be able to please your customers at all?
As an example, Virgin Group’s CEO Richard Branson has proved that putting the team first makes customers and even shareholders happy.
4. No more pointless meetings
That is: meetings for the sake of meetings, A.K.A “a waste of time”. This often happens in large organisations where processes have been put in place to create efficient work but instead create the opposite. Realising that you’re having unproductive meetings and canning these where possible, shows people you respect their time.
5. Excellent communication is worth the effort
Not being clear on what needs to be done or when, or changing goal-posts without clearly documenting and sharing these means that employees miss important tasks and become increasingly frustrated. A clear flow of communication benefits everyone.
6. Group problem-solving
This is especially effective for smaller companies where people have to work together, even from different and unrelated teams, to complete projects.
Try group problem solving as a team-building activity, for example in a brainstorming session where people with entirely different skill sets and perspectives must work together. This can stimulate creativity and bring unexpected breakthroughs in thinking.
7. Encourage free thinking (and speaking)
There’s not always a need for diplomacy. It’s important that people feel that they can speak their mind freely, so encourage your team members to talk openly rather than worrying about being nice or politically correct.
Create a culture where employees ask the difficult questions without being defensive. This ensures that people don’t always worry about asking only the smartest questions, as that’s not necessarily what drives results.
8. Don’t forget the fun factor
Yup, we’ve all been there. Remember those really “fun” (read: dreaded) corporate parties and unbearably long weekly meetings? Create a – genuinely – enjoyable environment, by encouraging everyone to be themselves and have fun.
Bad leadership, intentional or not, is toxic to the whole organization. Even the most driven and highest performing employees need good leaders. A key strategy is to develop your managers and leadership team as a matter of priority.
Bonus: The rules are – there are no rules
Forget the rules. Don’t worry, this won’t (always!) lead to anarchy, but again, would you really want a culture where everyone’s too scared of rules and regulations to think outside of the box and be creative? Having a playful work environment creates a level of trust and motivation where innovation flows more freely.
This article was first published here.