This is one of the steps I write about in my third book on employee engagement. You can get a digital copy at Contact Center Pipeline's bookstore.
Engaging with your team is too important to be left to memory or an I’ll fit it in approach or waiting for the final touches - word-smithing and fonts and colors - on your new "employee engagement program."
How do you do that?
Schedule it on your calendar. That's what you do with your important appointments. I recommend making it the first among equals, the first of your many important appointments. Here's why:
- Fewer immediate distractions. Obvious, enough.
- We're unencumbered by the yet to arrive, rising-tide of daily distractions.
- We’re clearer, fresher, stronger. Our willpower reserves are full at the start of the day. That makes first thing in the morning the best time to start a new habit.
- Sets the tone, provides the right lens to see the day.
How do I do it? I start my day with 15 minutes of gratitude. There's no real ceremony to it. I open a note in Evernote. I title it Gratitude: [The Day's Date] I start with the simple I am grateful for … I bullet point at least 10 items for which I am grateful. One word describes some items. A sentence or two describes others.
Set a reminder. You do that for those important appointments, too. (I like text reminders. Some prefer email or pop-ups.) This is the most important appointment in your day. In the Urgent-Important matrix, it’s Important-Important.
What do you do during this time?
- Write #1. During that time write a list of people, actions and results you want to recognize. It celebrates what you want to see more of.
- Write #2. Describe what and why you want to recognize them. Be specific for you both.
- Practice Saying It. A culture of engagement and recognition is built on one conversation, one word of praise and support, at a time. Frankly, too many cultures are disengaged and disconnected. That means the natural habit of conversation marked with praise and support ... has been lost. So practice saying it. Practice makes perfect. Don't forget: your direct reports might need practice hearing it to believe it.
- Deliver That Recognition. Recognition isn't recognition until you share it with the person you're recognizing. So, deliver that message to that person.
- Do that every day.
Regular practice strengthens the muscles of recognition. Like every new exercise, those muscles first complained and resisted. This is silly, I said to myself the first few times. Painful, too.
However, practicing gratitude everyday made me recognize more of the simple bounties in my life, particularly the people around me. That habit stays stronger, longer. At the end of a day ... I can still find people and events for which I am grateful.
For the wonks, here's a bit of data.
If your manager ignores you, there is a 40% chance that you will be actively disengaged or filled with hostility about your job. If your manager is at least paying attention - even if he is focusing on your weaknesses - the chances of your being actively disengaged go down to 22%. But if your manager is primarily focusing on your strengths, the chance of your being actively disengaged is just 1%, or 1 in 100. - Page 26 of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath.
Here's another statistic:
[A] 2012 study by the consultancy Aon Hewitt examined the link between corporations’ financial performance and employee engagement and found a 1 percentage point increase in employees who became engaged resulted in a 0.6 percent growth in sales.
So, now will you make it a daily habit?