Let’s put some spirit into people!

A while back I met a manager whose company was going through difficult and uncertain times following the closure of one unit in the company and the resulting readjustment measures and lay-offs. We thought together about what the situation demanded of leadership, and how we could bring some much-needed spirit to the gloomy environment.

Our conversation turned to the theme of engagement. Employee engagement has been shown by research to have a decisive effect on both the company’s business activities’ efficiency, and on the enthusiasm and wellbeing of personnel.

”Engaged employees are emotionally and intellectually involved in their work, and that motivates them to do their best work every day.”

– A study at Harvard University

A study done at Harvard University made the following observation:” Engaged employees are emotionally and intellectually involved in their work, and that motivates them to do their best work every day”.

Upheaval and change can be good

The various spending cuts and rearrangement of operations that this and many other companies are going through bring upheavals, changes, and rumours. Naturally enough, all of these have an impact on the personnel, and especially on their sense of engagement and their enthusiasm.

When times are tough, it’s easy to end up in a situation in which most people’s hearts and minds are not fully “on board.” This paralysis can easily lead to inefficiency and productivity problems, despite the fact that it is now more than ever that the personnel needs to be completely on board if the company is to get back on its feet and prosper.

A worthy goal might be for the employees to be enthusiastic about developing their own work and working community, rather than just doing everything as before and following the supervisor’s “orders”. More efficient activities and improved competitiveness come about through everyday innovations and doing things together.

Getting people involved

It is important to get personnel involved in shared efforts, and in this way to generate newfound motivation and belief in the future. In concrete terms, this may require, amongst other things, inclusive development and coaching, and leadership that gives people responsibility, from the uppermost levels of management to immediate supervisors.

It could be a question of a major, but perhaps essential, cultural change. The management team and HR have a key role in the discussion about what kind of leadership culture and corporate culture you want to promote in the company, which is expected to create a better tomorrow.

There are many ways of going about this, but what is essential is that the policies must be embraced in the everyday lives of the personnel through effective and inspiring supervisory work. For this reason, the inclusion of central management in the process at the very outset may be the decisive factor in ensuring success.

Targeted development through personnel input

The matter can also be approached through an employee survey, and through a 360º supervisory evaluation. It’s important to get a detailed view of the starting situation, to make it possible to target the change-promoting measures at just the right things, with the right emphasis, and in the right place within the organisation. When this happens, the effects of the measures taken are of a completely different order than “general” coaching and personnel developments that are implemented uniformly in accordance with leadership principles through a one-size-fits-all approach.

Employees often want to have a channel for passing on their impressions, and for participating actively in developing the business. Strong motivation and maintenance of the personnel’s own interest in the organisation and maintaining their investment in their own professionalism require high-quality employee surveys carried out by an external body, taking the results seriously, and participatory processes for making the best possible use of the results.

Let’s get to work!

So, we should search together for the best means of increasing engagement at our workplace, and at the same time of making companies more competitive on the market.