Getting the full engagement of employees is key issue on many an executive’s ‘to do’ list. Most of us have experienced working in a team or for an organisation where people are ‘fully engaged’ – the buzz, excitement, and high levels of performance and achievement.

But how do teams and organisations achieve this nirvana?

Many organisations go down the path of paying huge salaries and big bonuses to attract, motivate and retain the best staff. However, this is not the way to build long term engagement, commitment and high performance. Clearly managers and staff need to be appropriately remunerated but bonuses only have a short term impact on motivation and morale, and are soon forgotten.

Some organisations believe that team building events, regular social gatherings and parties are the way forward. However, these activities soon become tiresome for those that already work long hours as they take them further away from their family and home life.

The key characteristics of organisations that engage their employees are not those that pay the most, or have the best social gatherings. Quite simply they:

  • Are clear about what they expect from their staff.
  • Trust their staff to do their job and give them the freedom to make their own decisions (within guidelines).
  • Involve their staff in decisions that affect them.
  • Listen and pay attention to staff views concerns and ideas.
  • Support their staff to develop transferable skills.
  • Respond flexibly to the needs of their staff.
  • Role model what’s important, for example encouraging high achievement but discouraging long hours.

Essentially the above is a summary description of collective management behaviour – all of which can be learned, practised and developed. Successful organisations recognise these things and invest the necessary time effort and money in training and developing their managers, and are rewarded with high levels of employee engagement and performance.