A Guaranteed Way to Increase Employee Engagement

Companies pay exorbitant amounts of money to assess and increase employee engagement. Gallup, the top dog on employee engagement, reports that only 30% of US workers are engaged. 70% of us are not optimally engaged! That is an unthinkable problem. Want a solution?


A guaranteed way to increase engagement is to be shockingly clear on the “what” and leave the “how” up to others. Clarifying the “what” would include vision, as well as the specific parameters that you want others to operate within. Some of you do the big picture vision really well, but without the specifics of the “what,” things get off track quickly. You need to define the metrics, timeline, values and any expectations you are bringing to the table. It’s not a time to keep secrets when you are sharing responsibility.

The truth is, if you define the “what” really well, it won’t matter too much “how” it gets done, assuming followers are living consistently with the team/organizational values. This is simple in theory, but difficult in reality. Reflecting on this simple “what vs. how” distinction is a great way to discern the level of ownership your followers have in relation to your vision and values as well.

You’ll also want to be on the lookout for the following three tendencies, which are barriers to employee engagement, too:
  1. You Push Too Much: Leaders who talk incessantly simply do not leave enough space for others. Speak the outline and let others color it in.
  2. You Don’t Pull: It’s one thing to talk too much; it’s another to learn the art of great facilitation. The pull behaviors mean you not only raise an issue and allow others to speak up in ad hoc fashion, but you intentionally draw out the voices on the team to bring their best.
  3. You Don’t Care: Perhaps you need to admit that you really don’t want others to engage. You like telling people both what to do, how to do it, and sometimes you’d rather do the work yourself rather than share it with others.

If these tendencies are part of your leadership style, learning how to be responsive and pull from others by actively listening and building common ground is the key for better engagement among your staff.

The stakes are way too high to not take the extra time needed to share the work with others, clearly communicating and radically empowering others to grow by figuring out the how on their own.

Image Credit: Didier Baertschiger