Fostering Company Culture: 10 Tips to Energize Your Employees’ Engagement in the New Year

January 1, 2015

[blend images/corbis]
[blend images/corbis]

Conscientious leaders know that an enthusiastic, authentically engaged team is a powerful asset. If you are actively interested in engaging your employees, then you are already on the right track. But it is important to leverage the following tactics to foster a team that will deliver excellent results and create lasting relationships with each other and with your clients.

1. Get to know your team.

As the adage goes, people like to work with people they like, so take the time to truly get to know your team members. Doing so will create a more cohesive team, and you will be able to place them in roles that focus on their strengths. Play matchmaker and build deliberate teams for specific clients or internal projects. Find out what your employees like to do and, whenever possible, assign them teammates and clients who match not only their skill sets, but also their personalities and passions in order to ignite engagement.

To be able to do this well, you must actually know the complete person: major events in his or her life, hobbies, favorite sports, what he or she does on the weekends, etc. Effective working relationships are not formed in a vacuum. Learning about each other’s interests outside of the workplace will create stronger connections. Take time to encourage team bonding. A team that gets along well and trusts each other will do higher quality work at a faster speed because the members communicate better.

2. Consider a company retreat.

Team events outside of work are a good way to create better connections. A company retreat is a particularly excellent way to bring team members together while participating in fun activities and reinforcing your business’ mission, values and culture.

3. Empower your employees.

Expect the best from your employees and empower them to make decisions. Be sure to communicate your trust and expectations to your team. When they know that they have your full trust and are confident in their skills, they will put forth their best work. Teach poise and the power of taking the high road; they go a long way in business. Inspire your employees to take pride in the things they do, whether it is how they dress and keep their workspace or how they proofread their work one last time before presenting it to a client. It shows that they care.

4. Provide regular, supportive feedback.

Feedback is essential to engaging your team of professionals. When they do something correctly, give praise and show that you are proud of them. The public acknowledgment of success in a staff meeting or a group email can be very empowering and motivating to your team members. If they could be doing something better, then let them know. Timely, consistent feedback and on-the-spot coaching create a culture of learning and improvement.

Treat performance reviews as the valuable tools that they are. Reviews give employees the opportunity to identify their own strengths and areas of development, as well as provide managers with an opportunity to deliver constructive feedback through an open dialogue. You should consider midyear reviews for employees to supplement the traditional annual review in order to reinforce goal setting and address areas of improvement in a more formalized way. Once they know what to focus on and what the expectations are, employees will be more engaged in their work.

5. Help your team grow.

Nurturing the professional and personal development of your team members is an investment that will be of great benefit to both your company and your employees. Create an environment of lifelong learning by making it clear to your team that you are invested in
their individual growth.

6. Enable work-life balance.

It is also necessary to recognize that professional training is not the only source of growth. Encourage employees to maintain a work-life balance. Travel, family, friends, pop culture, exercise and philanthropic or extracurricular activities can all be great sources of new ideas and personal development that they will infuse into their work. Some people come up with their best ideas during solo exercise or meditation, while others do their best thinking while taking adventures with friends and loved ones.

7. Understand the team personalities.

Helping your team grow, however, does not only mean supporting their professional growth. Self-discovery and self-analysis are tools that can advance your entire team. Various “personality tests” can provide great insight into how individuals function, what their style of work is and how they prefer communicating with others. This, in turn, will largely improve teamwork, as employees will learn how to best work together.

8. Lead with enthusiasm.

Be enthusiastic and have a positive mindset. Optimism is infectious, and it creates a pleasant work environment. Seize every occasion to help better your team and lead by example. Share ideas that inspire you and show how they can apply to work. Create opportunities for your employees to do the same. Whether you encourage team members to share ideas by sending around useful links to the team, or you ask them to present their ideas in weekly staff meetings, creating opportunities for your team to share resources is a powerful engagement tactic.

9. Start a book club.

Starting a company book club is also an outstanding way to share resources and learn together. Choose a relevant book to focus on each month or quarter and dissect its key takeaways with your team. Ask yourselves how you plan to apply the author’s best ideas as a team.

10. Bring levity.

Incorporate fun into the workday. Employees create better results when they enjoy what they are doing. Having a sense of humor reminds employees that it is OK to be themselves, and encouraging authenticity is another key factor in effective employee engagement. Humor creates powerful bonds with clients and employees alike. After a good laugh, everything seems easier, even the most difficult of tasks.  

Actively considering employee engagement throughout your workweek will serve as a powerful reminder to take care of your business’ most valuable asset: your employees. They will, in turn, take care of you

Rebecca Hall, APR
Rebecca Hall, APR, is president and CEO of Idea Hall, a full-service branding, marketing and PR agency in Orange County, Calif. Website: www.ideahall.com.

Comments

Alan Morgan Breacher says:

The company retreat can be one of the best ways to build a strong team by enabling team members to get to know more about each other's strengths and motivations. While working for a large oil company in Houston I attended two 1-day retreats and I found them to be the best team-building experiences I had ever had. It was especially important that the department's leaders encouraged participation from everyone who attended. Personally, I felt much more engaged in my work and team after returning to my office as a result of what I learned from the retreat, as well as from strengthened relationships with my co-workers.

Jan. 26, 2015

Beverly M. Payton, APR says:

Thanks for the excellent, share-worthy post, Rebecca. I'd like to suggest one more tool that my research-based nonprofit found extremely useful. Conduct a periodic employee survey to assess how your staff feels about your organization, its direction, culture, leadership, management, compensation package, overall work-life quality, training, career advancement opportunities, compensation, and how engaged they are with your mission. Our survey results informed our five-year organizational strategic plan as well as internal audience strategies for my strategic communications plan. We were pleased with Workplace Dynamics workplacedynamics.com which provided a thorough, cost-effective employee survey. The also benchmarked our organization against similarly sized nonprofits.

March 23, 2015

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