Many business leaders are making the mistake that management is a choice between being results driven or people driven. These are the organisations missing out on the benefits of increased profitability enjoyed by those with an effective employee engagement strategy.
A recent Harvard Business Review study showed it is possible to focus on your people and be results driven at the same time. Their assessment data from more than 60,000 leaders showed that leaders who were rated in the top quartile of both skills ranked in the 91st percentile of all leaders. But interestingly they did show that only 13% of leaders did focus on people skills and driving results.
What’s causing the gap?
The study brought out some interesting points on what the dividing factors could be, linking in the profiles of leaders who succeed in both areas.
Notably younger leaders (those under thirty), were two to three times more likely to be effective at both results and engagement. The HRB considered why, from age forty onwards, being people-driven or results driven appeared to become a choice. They raised the idea that older colleagues rely more on experience as an influence rather than ‘soft skills’ and getting to know employees.
This led onto the second point that those higher up the management ladder also had less successful people skills. Supervisors were found to do both aspects twice as well than senior managers as they had to rely on people skills to get results.
But overall, the report argues that those who are older and more experienced and/or in powerful positions of management would benefit from people skills and see an improvement in results, turnover and productivity.
After all, employee engagement is how a person feels about their job (and their boss), leading to a willingness to learn and perform at work.
And 94% of the world’s most admired companies believe their efforts to engage their employees have created a competitive advantage according to a report by Hay.
How to build behavioural bridges
This is the key to combining people and results as a strategy. Business leaders must go beyond generational and ‘hierarchical’ barriers to ensure that everyone is involved in the company vision. They should lead by example, and serve as a constant reminder of what the company is working toward and how to make it happen. This transparency about the organisation’s aims and objectives will make employees feel part of the vision and motivated to make it happen.
- Take time to connect
Taking time to connect with employees is a fantastic way to engage them. Whether it’s a simple team building ‘away day’ out of the office or a meal, employees will appreciate leaders that care about who they are both inside and outside of the workplace.
Allow for constant progression and frequent feedback on performance. Monthly one-on-ones and frequent check-ins are the best way to keep employees interested, motivated and engaged. Well-trained employees are far more productive and again this removes any age or management structure blocks in people being recognised for the right skills.
Set goals for individuals, teams and the organisation, ensuring that they allow link with one clearly defined vision. Employees needing to feel that managers act in their best interest are just some aspects to improving engagement, which ultimately has a positive effect on overall business outcomes and client satisfaction.
In turn, leaders who ask for feedback from others and work to make improvements are highly respected.
Taking all of the above into consideration will create a strong culture, where it isn’t about young and old, or a hierarchical chain of management, but about everyone working towards the same common goals.
Engaged employees work faster, harder and stronger because they like what they do.
Gallup reports that engaged employees are nearly 20% more productive. Furthermore, when employees are engaged and feel that they are treated well by their managers, they will feel a sense of responsibility to reciprocate this respect by putting in their best effort.
Having the ability to drive for results and maintain excellent people skills is a winning combination for employee engagement and will make you a more effective leader.