Engagement is more like a plant than it is like a building. It grows, you don’t build it. The best way to help it grow is to create an environment where growth can happen.
If you’re a responsible for the performance of a group, you’re the gardener. Here are some things you can do to help engagement grow.
Touch base a lot. If you care about something, you give it time, so give time to the people on your team.
Have conversations. Conversations are where relationships grow. Make sure they’re real conversations and about things that matter to team members, including some that aren’t about business.
Have one-on-one meetings with team members. That’s the only way to make sure that you both understand things in the same way.
Help people get small wins. People crave progress. It doesn’t have to be giant, amazing, earth-shaking progress. Bits of progress will do nicely. Help team members do today’s job a little better. Help them make progress toward whatever their next stage might be.
Praise is the driver of performance and good feelings. Don’t wait for perfection. Praise progress, effort, and small wins.
Have regular team meetings to help people help each other. Take some time, probably at the beginning of each meeting, for a personal and business update. Group meetings help provide the social support we all need.
Celebrate team wins as a team. Have everyone discuss what worked well and praise other team members for good work. Take time to revel in your success before you move on to the next challenge.
Give team members the maximum control possible over their work life. Help them master the basics, so you both can spend time on progress-making things.
Tolerate mistakes. When people are learning, they will make mistakes. After they’ve mastered the work, they will still make mistakes. It’s something humans do. Most mistakes won’t matter much.
Encourage experiments. The best way to learn and get better is to try things out. Remember: an experiment is a success if you learn from it.
Weed the garden. From time to time you will encounter a toxic plant that no amount of attention or technique will help. Remove it from the garden before it infects the other plants.
Boss’s Bottom Line
Your job is to create the environment where engagement can grow.