A Gallup poll revealed that only 26% of U.S. employees are fully engaged at any time. On the other end of the spectrum, 19% of employees are actively disengaged — meaning that they intentionally act in ways that negatively impact their organizations. The annual cost nationwide to employ this actively disengaged group exceeds $300 billion.
The Letter, an online newsletter published by Lee Colan and the L Group, recently featured an article outlining a communications process that could help increase colleague engagement. The writer focuses on three key communication steps:
- Explain It’s critical that you clearly explain how the issue and his/her performance affects the team. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to communicate with employees and what to withhold. But the truth is that leaders who underestimate the intelligence of their employees generally overestimate their own. When employees’ questions aren’t answered or situations aren’t fully explained, people tend to fill in the blanks with their own assumptions.
- Ask Explaining is fundamental, but it’s a one-way process. Ask employees what they think. When you do, they will be participating in two-way communication. Leaders tend to stumble on this step. One reason may be the myth that a leader has to implement every employee suggestion. The key to asking is listening. The test for effective listening is learning. Are you learning about your employees’ needs, how they view their contributions to the team’s purpose, how appreciated they feel, how much autonomy they want?
- Engage To have truly productive communication, you must engage your employees in ongoing, meaningful dialogue. Engage them in the process of developing solutions to problems, identifying areas for improvement and finding opportunities for growth. Some leaders feel threatened at the idea of involving their employees involving problems. Perhaps they feel they’re giving up control. Remember this: your team is closer to the actual work and to your customers than you are. And there is more than one way to effectively solve a problem.
What do you think of that three-step process: Explain, Ask, Engage? Does it go far enough? What communication tips and tactics would you throw in the mix?