Ten Ways to Tap Team Members Best Efforts

The importance of employee engagement and loyalty cannot be overstated and in lots of common conversations it seems like both are on the decline. Gallop polls report objectively that engagement is lower, and conversations among leaders at the local watering hole add spicy color. However, I have had two recent experiences that have certainly given me reason to think more meaningfully about this situation. Particularly striking was the experience of auditing of a company whose employees, driven by genuine appreciation and commitment, had taken it upon themselves to nominated the company for a regional “Best Places to Work” award.

The other was that group that took the time over a weekend to learn about and commit themselves to a strategy of improving leadership in the company for the benefit of the employees. They were already growing fast and profitably but thought they could be doing more for each team member. In fairness, I can also report that in contrast, I’ve had recent interactions with other companies that revealed the challenges of low engagement and retention.

The contrast, both groups in the last month, lead me to a clear conclusion that declining engagement is not a forgone conclusion, made inevitable by the COIVD induced changes. My conclusion is that the work leaders do is the ultimate determinant of engagement. In both positive cases it was crystal clear. Great leaders simply do and say different things – it’s a choice. Drawing from the insightful report “Putting the Work Ethic to Work in America,” here are ten management practices I have experienced as being instrumental in driving engagement, loyalty, retention, and ownership thinking:

  1. Company and Team Purpose
    Understanding the ‘why’ behind the work of their company and their team helps employees see their efforts contributing to a larger goal, fostering a sense of significance and fulfillment.
  2. Work in a Team
    Teamwork satisfies the human need for belonging. Real teamwork, not just common reporting boosts morale and motivation through shared goals and mutual support.
  3. Selection Involvement
    Involving employees in selecting team members fosters ownership and responsibility, enhancing commitment and creating a psychological bond among team members.
  4. Goal Setting Involvement
    Involving employees in setting team goals respect their competence and demonstrates trust. This participatory approach ensures that goals are realistic and aligned with both team and individual aspirations, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment.
  5. Problem Solving
    Expecting employees to actively engage in problem-solving says that you have confidence in their capabilities, and it drives their sense of autonomy and mastery. It stimulates intellectual engagement and creative thinking, leading to a sense of accomplishment and confidence in tackling new challenges.
  6. Creativity
    Fostering an environment where creativity is valued allows employees to think, learn and take risks. This freedom stimulates intellectual curiosity and personal growth, satisfying the need for autonomy and self-actualization.
  7. Learning Opportunities
    Providing continuous learning opportunities, including job skills and career planning, keeps employees intellectually challenged and up-to-date. This growth fulfills the human desire for development and progress, making employees feel more capable and adaptable.
  8. Appreciation
    Regular recognition and appreciation fulfill a fundamental human need for esteem. A simple thank you demonstrates a view of team member’s value and acknowledgement boosts confidence and self-worth, reinforcing positive behavior and effort.
  9. Interesting Work
    Engaging and stimulating work captures employees’ interest and keeps them mentally invested. When work challenges and intrigues, it leads to a state of flow, increasing satisfaction and reducing feelings of laborious effort.
  10. Gainsharing
    Implementing programs like gainsharing links employee efforts to rewards. To be clear, gainsharing, properly applied is not an incentive. It’s a fair sharing of a mutual achievement. Incentives make people focus on the reward, not the work. This practice fosters a sense of fairness and shared success, reinforcing the value of employees’ contributions.

I’m sure there are 100 more management practices that engage people, but these ten are not hard to do. Pick one or two and make things better, then add more as opportunity permits. There is ample evidence that when effectively implemented, these practices create a work environment where employees feel valued, empowered, and motivated. The story of the company whose employees nominated it for a “Best Places to Work” award exemplifies the impact of such practices.

About the Author

Paul Doyle
Paul Doyle is the founder of LeaderWork. He brings more than 35 years of diverse business experience, including 15 years as a CEO, leading manufacturing companies. Paul has been active in North America with companies ranging from $20 million to $450 million in revenue.