Sometimes organizations confuse happy employees with engaged employees. In fact, you can be the most engaged employee in a company and not be happy at all. Or, you can be the happiest person on the planet and not engaged at work.
Of course, you could be a happy person and engaged at work…which would obviously be the elusive outrageously awesome employee! I have visited companies where they had only one of these awesome employees…and I have visited companies where it seemed like almost everyone was happy and engaged.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe for one minute that you can be both happy and engaged every shift of every day. People are people and sometimes you have a bad day, sometimes you just can’t dig deep enough to be awesome.
But what an amazing goal to have, everybody happy and everybody engaged every shift and every day. Go for it. I think if you just do something every day to attempt to come close to that goal you will realize some pretty amazing results. But you need a plan and you need to understand what to do and when to do it.
Where do you start? I think you need to understand the basics of what you can control.
Can you control if a person is happy or not? To some extent, yes. But there are so many outside factors that influence happiness and you are just one of those outside factors. For instance, I have kids and if one of my kids is sick then I am usually not happy because I am thinking about them and what I need to do to make them feel better. Trying to make me happy on that day is going to be a waste of your time and could make matters worse.
What control do you have over the levels of engagement? Quite a bit. I believe that in most cases engagement is based on relationships.
What can you do to increase the quality of your relationships at work? All my research points towards communication being the number one characteristic of an engaged environment.
You really need to reach out to your team and have some one-on-one time with each of them. Develop that relationship, let them get to know who you are and let your enthusiasm for your job spill over. Be a mentor to the ones that need guidance, work side by side with the ones don’t.
Your team wants to be informed, they want communication and in most cases, they need communication.
When you give a person something they want and need, it tends to make them happy. It is important to make sure that all your communications are easy to understand and direct. Post schedules on time or ahead of time. Give performance evaluations frequently, even if they are not required by your company. You can give informal evaluations weekly or even daily if you feel the need to do so. When you conduct meetings or even huddles, get everyone involved…everyone!
Let your team tell you what is going on – that is how you get information and act. By communicating with your team, you are increasing their happiness and engagement at the same time. Face to face is the best form of communication you can use. Even in the high-tech world we live in there is nothing like looking into someone’s eyes and talking to them.
Here is a personal example – my oldest daughter lives a few states away from the rest of the family. We text each other almost every day and send emails back and forth. We even FaceTime one another which is by far the best of the other methods mentioned…BUT when she comes to see us or we go to see her, the conversations are much more meaningful. You will find the same thing happens to you at work.