Change is constant – we all understand that. But a dangerous side effect in a world where information availability doubles every 2-3 years is that most of today’s employees are worn out, never knowing what is coming next while being required to get more done with less. We look to give our employees more responsibility, more freedom and a greater voice – thinking this will engage them – and they’ll work harder and better. The result is just the opposite – we overwhelm them and set ourselves up to lose our best.
So, in a period of epic change, how does management learn to engage without overwhelming? Consider these four approaches:
- Clearly define the organisation’s direction, mission and vision. Explain with laser precision what the organisation does, is great at, what matters and its route to success. This way all employees can start to associate which of their daily behaviours are in line with this direction and which are not. This empowers employees to take control of their workday.
- Set reasonable performance expectations. Even outstanding employees can’t achieve some of today’s excessive expectations – so they just check out. Divide each new initiative into small success-focused components. Keep advancing – just advance with smaller, more achievable components to engage and not overwhelm.
- Educate. In a world that constantly changes, knowledge is performance power. Constant practical education encourages employee engagement by helping them feel capable, competent and confident. As with number 2 above, even education presented should be in smaller, bite- (byte-) sized components.
- Celebrate all progress. Small recurring victories keep the performance spirit alive. Make celebration and acknowledgement part of the culture to help employees see the impact of their work and to feel personally important to the organisation.
Today’s economy is hard on everyone. Managements need to be more clever and more opportunity-focused; employees need to be more resilient and more engaged. Finding a successful blend requires some management finesse or employees quickly become overwhelmed. And being overwhelmed is the first step to employee disengagement and departure.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.