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Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in Engagement, Featured, Leadership | 2 comments

Leading Locally: A Difference Maker in Increasing Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement

The ubiquity of employee engagement renders it a management fad, unfortunately.

Employees find it elusive and another trend that changes one thing – their perspective on a possibility lost to good intentions. Also managers and employees both find employee engagement one of those vague trends leaving most wondering what it means and what it looks like.

Despite its overuse in business vernacular, managers have a choice in whether the important cultural element becomes a fad or motivates employees to peak performance.

Central to the choice is a manager’s willingness to lead locally.

Defining Leading Locally

Leading locally means choosing to lead your team despite the odds stacked against you. It is choosing to lead even in the face of dissenters. It’s choosing to lead your team and taking a stand for what you believe is necessary.

With employee engagement, employees’ apathy or indifference to this difference- maker is to be expected. Employees won’t believe you will leverage the benefits of connecting their knowledge, skills and experience to create meaningful work. In fact most don’t even know meaningful work is possible.

Some may not even realize that they too have a role in their engagement and in creating meaningful work.

If you choose to lead locally, you can erode the apathy and disillusionment, thereby making room for curiosity, concern about, and attentiveness to work and outcomes. But how? How can leading locally make a difference in engaging your employees?

Here are a few ways:

Shift Who It’s About

One recent study shows more than sixty percent of employees believe their boss is more concerned about their own development than inspiring each employee to do great work.

Leading locally means choosing to lead your team despite the odds stacked against you. It is choosing to lead even in the face of dissenters. It’s choosing to lead your team and taking a stand for what you believe is necessary.

Employee engagement isn’t about showing leadership brilliance. It’s about helping to connect employees to the meaning of their work. Your purpose is to reveal and inspire employees’ talents and strengths in how they go about their work.

Work can be a source of joy. This is possible when you make your role about making your team look good, making their talents and results paramount.

Know the Goal

The goal of employee engagement isn’t to look like you’re doing something to improve morale. The goal is to be the catalyst for business results. Equally important is how you inspire employees to generate those results.

  • Are you available to help them when needed? This means you don’t let an endless stream of meetings prevent you from helping employees see how their work supports the team and organization’s purpose.
  • Do you provide frequent feedback? James Kouzes and Barry Posner advocate a 3:1 frequent feedback ratio: 3 positive interactions to 1 redirection interaction.

For employee engagement to work, each manager must take the personal responsibility to demonstrate its value to her team and to the organization. It won’t happen simply because an engagement assessment was done and results were shared.

If you choose to lead locally, you can erode the apathy and disillusionment, thereby making room for curiosity, concern about, and attentiveness to work and outcomes.

No. Each manager must pick up the reins and do the heavy lifting to keep engagement from becoming another business fad that reverses the good it’s intended to create.

To do this each leader must lead locally.

It’s even better if a company’s leaders lead locally in concert, united in action with a shared purpose.

How do you lead locally to improve engagement within your employees?

Shawn Murphy

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of Switch and Shift. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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  • http://www.bensimonton.com/ Ben Simonton

    Ambiguous at best. Stop doing what disengages employees meaning stop not listening to them, stop telling them what to do, and stop denying them the information they need to do a better job.

  • Fernando Carvalho

    Great post Shawn! I guess I try to lead locally by opening employees eyes to their potential and by helping them step out of their comfort zone.