5 Tips to Train Leaders to Engage Employees

As an Employee Experience and Change Manager who loves people and is constantly researching, sharing, and implementing employee engagement initiatives, I wish I could take all of the credit for having a highly engaged workforce.

The truth is, at the heart of every engaged employee is a highly effective, conscious leader making intentional decisions to drive their engagement.

The opposite can also be true. Meaning that if you don’t recognise that leaders should be tasked with engagement, you will likely be left with turnover or disengagement wondering where you went wrong.

If your perks are up to par but your engagement scores are dropping below the bar, consider coaching your leaders in these areas:

Training Leaders: Communication

Employees look up to their managers and leadership for guidance, vision and direction to understand where the company is going and how they are a part of it. Your leaders should communicate often, clearly and thoughtfully think through messaging to make sure that employees know what is going on, when, why, and what (if anything) is needed from them. 1:1 meetings are a great place for your leaders to communicate with employees, talk about any changes, understand their concerns, keep them informed, motivated and most importantly engaged! If your leaders are falling short in this area, think about helping them create communication plans for their teams with objectives, targeted messaging, and ways to measure effectiveness. It can also be insightful to anonymously survey teams on their managers communication to identify communication methods that are and are not working.

Training Leaders: Building on strengths

We all have strengths, weaknesses and areas in between. Many leaders focus on areas of weakness – endlessly trying to build those areas up in their staff, but the truth is that focussing on employee’s strengths and building their career off of them can lead to more success and a happy employee. Coach your leaders to push their employees to try new things and get out of their comfort zone but, for example, if they loathe public speaking, they shouldn’t continually set a goal for them to speak at an event. Instead, they should find what their employees do love working on and what they are good at and push them forward building their career on those strengths.

Training Leaders: Understanding drivers and passions

Gone are the days that employees aren’t looking to align their personal passions and motivation with their work. Leaders should invest time upfront finding out what drives and motivates employees both personally and professionally. Coach leaders to work with employees and teams to uncover their ‘why’ and align those back to the company vision, goals, and their contribution. Employees will be much more engaged if you can connect their goals and motivation to their role and their work.

Training Leaders: Purpose and meaning

In the age of technology, we see more employees needing to find purpose and meaning in their work in order to be satisfied and engaged. Ensure that your leaders not only understand this but work with their teams to establish purpose and meaning together. A good exercise to have your managers run with their teams is a discussion around the questions:

  • What would the impact be if our group disappeared tomorrow?
  • What impact does our work have on people?

These questions are a great starting point to help your team pin down why their work is meaningful and what it means to the organisation, clients, and actual people. Helping your people identify meaning in their team, their work, and the company will surely keep them along for the long haul.

Training Leaders: Valuable feedback

Your people want to get better, they want to know how, and they want to know now. Feedback isn’t something that can wait for a quarterly or annual review anymore, your employees want constructive feedback after everything they do. Whether you implement an ongoing feedback tool internally, have your managers discuss feedback weekly on a 1:1 basis with their employees, or find another creative way to discuss feedback, be sure it is happening, it is happening often, and it is actionable. Feedback is key to growth, success, and engagement.

Engaged and happy employees are more productive, more successful, and more fun to work with. However, keep in mind that engagement is a team effort and an ongoing journey. Get your leaders, managers, and employees all involved in the charge and never stop pushing for more ways to motivate and inspire your team.

Here are some additional blogs to look into to improve leadership initiatives.

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