Leadership

How Leaders Ignite Engagement to Build Their Business

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New economy leadership requires a skillful combination of business expertise and personal rapport.

It’s no longer enough for leaders to be highly capable — they must also build meaningful and authentic bonds with employees and vigorously champion engagement initiatives because engaged employees are more productive and innovative, offer customers better service, and are less likely to leave.

Resources invested in employees’ careers, personal development, and job satisfaction will pay off. Employees who feel a strong connection to their employer aren’t just passionate or proud — they’re committed and possess invaluable line-of-sight to both their own future and to the company’s mission and goals. They’re enthused and in gear, applying their unique skills, talents, and discretionary effort to help their organizations succeed.

Engaging employees in building the business

Leaders can ignite engagement by articulating goals, painting a compelling vision of the future, and helping employees understand how they can fulfill their own definitions of interesting and meaningful work while contributing richly to the company’s progress.

Smart leaders engage all of their employees in building the business, from idea creation though execution. Everyone in the company should feel they have a chance to make a difference and accomplish great things. While inspiration may start at the top, good leadership drives that inspiration deep into the company through personal connections and by providing challenging and interesting opportunities.

Leaders at all levels need to regularly coach team members. Involve employees in solving problems and provide opportunities for change and challenge to feed their need for achievement. This helps them satisfy their desire for belonging and growth, so they don’t erroneously assume they need to acquire new experiences or build their resume elsewhere.

Executives should also demonstrate consistency in words and actions, communicate frequently — with a lot of depth — and align all business practices and behaviors throughout the organization to drive results and engagement. People need examples of the paths they might take to contribute in new ways. Stay attentive to employees’ goals and interests and look out for projects and roles that will propel the organization forward while satisfying personal aspirations.

Recognition, incentives help build engagement

Recognition and incentive programs are another powerful tool for building employee engagement and the bottom line. These programs are one of the few business tools where cost can be based on actual performance and paid out only after the desired results have been achieved. According to a SITE Foundation study, effectively designed programs increase performance by an average of 22 percent and team incentives can increase performance by as much as 44 percent.

Incentive programs also help increase employees’ interest in their work. The study also found when rewards are first offered for completing a task, a 15 percent increase in performance occurs. Asked to persist toward a goal, employees increase their performance by 27 percent, and when reward programs are used to encourage ‘thinking smarter,’ performance increased by 26 percent.

As part of an integrated business strategy, well-executed recognition and incentive programs can be utilized to motivate and engage people at all levels of the organization. Leaders who successfully engage their employees and inspire them to achieve both personal and company goals will realize significant financial and performance gains over time.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.

Michelle M. Smith is the Vice President of Business Development at Salt Lake City-based OC Tanner, an international appreciation company that helps more than 6,000 clients worldwide appreciate people who do great work through consulting, training, and creating customized award and recognition programs. Michelle is a renowned speaker, writer, consultant and trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments, and President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association.