Stuart Crabb is a multidisciplinary HR leader who has helped companies adopt effective employee development programmes at tech giants such as Siemens, Yahoo and Facebook. He has advised over 100 early-stage startups since 2016, offering guidance and support in their journey toward success. He is the founder of Oxegen Consulting and an advisor and coach at GGV Capital.
Engaged employees are the linchpin of successful companies.
Without fostering a company culture that creates happy, motivated teams, companies run the risk of falling productivity rates and disorganisation, which can severely impact their bottom line.
I have spent over 30 years spearheading people development programmes at global companies. I’m also fortunate to be coaching so many brilliant startups in my role as an advisor to GGV Capital.
But whether it is a budding startup or a conglomerate, I offer the same advice: focus on your employees. People who are driven perform better and deliver stronger results. A recent Gallup poll found companies that actively promoted employee engagement had a 23 per cent difference in profitability than those who had low employee engagement. The survey also discovered that actively engaged employees led to significantly lower turnover rates.
But managing well is no walk in the park. In this article, I will distil some of the best practices of employee engagement and how they will help your company attain peak performance.
Identify strengths and passion
When hiring, the first and foremost consideration should not only be a person’s skills but whether their strengths and passion align with the job requirements. It is important to understand that a strength goes beyond mere proficiency in a particular area and that a weakness does not always indicate incompetence.
Rather, strength refers to the traits or abilities that help employees achieve their own aspirations and their company’s goals. The job should evoke positive anticipation and a sense of fulfilment afterward.
Individuals tend to experience the most growth in areas where they already possess extensive knowledge and deep passion. Understanding these strengths becomes pivotal in various aspects of the hiring process, such as goal-setting, measurement, feedback, and facilitating growth and advancement. HR departments should ensure that prospective employees comprehend the role and its significance within the company, thus fostering motivation and encouraging long-term commitment.
Create a safe space
In today’s dynamic work environment, managers play a crucial role in cultivating a diverse and equitable workplace. They need to demonstrate their commitment to supporting and nurturing such an environment. So how can managers ensure that their teams thrive in an inclusive atmosphere? One good approach is to create a safe space where team members feel comfortable expressing themselves truthfully and respectfully, knowing their voices will be heard.
It is vital for managers to recognise that each individual’s experience and needs are unique and require personalised support and care. By being relatable, managers can establish a deeper connection with their team members. Authenticity is key, and team members will appreciate managers who are open and transparent.
Moreover, recognition holds immense power in fostering an inclusive workplace. Meaningful appreciation goes beyond mere token gestures and taps into the intrinsic value of each team member. Recognising achievements publicly or privately, depending on an individual’s preference, demonstrates respect for their personal boundaries. Timeliness and accuracy are also vital in this process, ensuring that recognition is genuine and relevant.
Having regular check-ins with team members is crucial for understanding their emotions and recognising the obstacles they encounter. These sessions play a valuable role in helping individuals clarify their priorities and reinforce their strengths. It’s essential for managers to approach these discussions as an opportunity for team members to express their concerns, actively listening instead of monopolising the conversation. In fact, adopting an 8:2 listening/speaking ratio is recommended to ensure a balanced dialogue. When executed effectively, check-ins can serve as performance reviews.
Integrating discussions about learning and performance into these routine sessions will enhance the check-in process. This approach enables continuous growth and development within the team. Additionally, it’s advisable to schedule a longer engagement conversation with each team member at least once a year to delve deeper into their progress and aspirations. By incorporating these strategies into your regular check-ins, you can establish a strong foundation for fostering individual growth and optimising team performance.
Give data-driven feedback
One should evaluate an employee’s performance by harnessing the power of data, and this approach ensures that performance reviews are not clouded by personal biases or arbitrary judgments. Instead, it establishes a meritocratic system where employees are recognised and rewarded based on their tangible impact on the company’s success.
The beauty of leveraging data in performance reviews is its ability to provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of an employee’s performance. Objective metrics, like sales figures or project outcomes, offer undeniable proof of an individual’s contributions to the organisation. This transparency fosters a culture of accountability, where employees understand the direct correlation between their efforts and the recognition they receive.
Moreover, a data-driven performance review process instils a sense of fairness and trust within the workforce. Employees can rest assured that their performance is evaluated on a level playing field, where results speak louder than personal preferences or office politics. This sense of objectivity encourages individuals to strive for excellence, knowing that their hard work and dedication will be acknowledged and rewarded.
Communicate concerns clearly
In order to address underperformance within your team, effective communication is essential. It is crucial to address the issue early to prevent its negative impact on other team members and projects. When discussing the problem with the underperforming team member, provide them with hard data and evidence to ensure objectivity in the evaluation. Additionally, establish clear measures and objectives to guide them towards improvement, documenting all the necessary changes along the way. Engaging the HR department early in the process can also be beneficial.
Remember, feedback should be a two-way process. Encourage open communication by being receptive to feedback from your team members. Providing prompt and honest feedback and recognition for their achievements can be a powerful motivator. It is an essential tool in your leadership toolkit that helps foster a positive work environment and promotes growth within the team.
Make time for one-on-one check-ins
A healthy performance management process prioritises the growth and recognition of employees rather than instilling punishment and demotivation. It should be streamlined, simple, and agile, focusing on near-term goals rather than dwelling on the past. The most effective approach involves frequent one-on-one check-ins, coaching, and reinforcement. These sessions provide valuable opportunities to gauge team members’ emotions, identify successes and challenges, clarify priorities, reinforce strengths, and help individuals find ways to maintain boundaries.
Regular check-ins with team members are crucial for understanding their emotions and recognising the obstacles they encounter. These sessions play a valuable role in helping individuals clarify their priorities and reinforce their strengths. Managers need to approach these discussions as an opportunity for team members to express their concerns, actively listening instead of monopolising the conversation. In fact, adopting an 8:2 listening/speaking ratio is recommended to ensure a balanced dialogue. When executed effectively, check-ins can serve as performance reviews.
Integrating discussions about learning and performance into these routine sessions will enhance the check-in process. This approach enables continuous growth and development within the team. Additionally, scheduling a longer engagement conversation with each team member at least once a year is advisable to delve deeper into their progress and aspirations. By incorporating these strategies into your regular check-ins, you can establish a strong foundation for fostering individual growth and optimising team performance.
Regular one-on-one check-ins are an excellent platform to assess team members’ well-being, understand their achievements and struggles, clarify priorities, and reinforce their strengths. Moreover, these sessions provide valuable support in helping individuals establish and maintain boundaries.
Promote continuous growth
Continuous learning is key to fostering personal growth and enhancing organisational productivity. By implementing a structured process for ongoing education, companies empower their employees to expand their skills and knowledge constantly. A more organised process benefits the individual’s professional development and enables them to make more significant contributions to the company’s success. It allows them to stay updated with the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices, which can lead to innovative ideas and improved efficiency. Moreover, investing in employee development demonstrates a commitment to their success and well-being, fostering loyalty and creating a positive work environment.
A robust learning process can take various forms, such as workshops, online courses, mentorship programs, or cross-functional projects. Implement regular assessments and feedback sessions to track progress and identify areas for improvement. By prioritising continuous learning, companies create a workforce that is adaptable, knowledgeable, and capable of driving the organisation forward in an ever-evolving business landscape.
If you want to build a truly fantastic team, it’s super important to set clear expectations, tap into everyone’s strengths, and ensure everyone feels safe to give and receive feedback. When you have transparent guidelines and objectives, it’s like giving your teammates a roadmap to success. They clearly understand their area of responsibility, which will lead to higher productivity and better results.
When we implement all these strategies, we’re optimising our team’s performance and empowering each individual to shine.