Employee Engagement:
It’s Business, and it IS Personal

Employee-Engagement-ConnectionWhen it comes to employee engagement, it is not strictly business, it’s personal.

While providing resources and information enhances relationships, it takes more to strengthen them: a personal connection with people and an investment in their lives. I’ve been writing about this in recent posts. What I’ve found to be true is that the most successful leaders demonstrate a genuine caring. Without it, employee engagement reaches only moderate levels.

As Clint Swindall states in Engaged Leadership: Building a Culture to Overcome Employee Disengagement (Wiley, 2011), both leaders and employees contribute to workplace disengagement. Employees generally start their jobs with enthusiasm but lose it over time after chalking up negative experiences. Employees cannot be expected to make the initial efforts to correct problems. Leaders must initiate improvements and oversee organizational health.

Relationships drive engagement, which, in turn, drives productivity and success. Leaders must therefore be the relationship initiators and encouragers. If you care about people, your natural inclination will be relationship driven. In fact, personal connection is so critical that it takes the top spot among the 10 key factors influencing employee engagement, as listed by organizational behavior experts Dan Crim and Gerard Seijts in “What Engages Employees the Most OR, the Ten Cs of Employee Engagement” (Ivey Business Journal, March/April 2006).

Connecting with employees and getting to know them have powerful benefits, conveying value and appreciation. Your staff senses your support and understanding as the relationship grows. They respond with trust, loyalty and effort. The employee gets to know your character, forging a tighter bond. A leader conveys caring by being interested in an employee’s life, family and aspirations.

Strong relationships permit the frank sharing of concerns and ideas, leading to joint ownership. Both parties better grasp the other’s world. Greater accountability and transparency lead to higher engagement for both parties, and a greater sense of unity. Following up on your commitments is the final step in showing people you can be trusted to take care of them.

What do you think? Do you have a personal connection with your employees or direct reports? Would they agree? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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