Leadership

Work to Remove Barriers to Employee Engagement

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Leaders must understand that they play a large role in supporting (or hindering) employee engagement.

Some leaders see employee disengagement as a sign of laziness, apathy, or even insubordination. They see a bad habit that must be broken and often resort to forceful command-and-control strategies. But these are not only ineffective at increasing employee engagement – they can also cause employees to retreat further.

This is because leaders are often so focused on what they see their employees doing (or not doing) that they fail to consider how their leadership might be creating barriers to employee engagement.

Leaders must understand that they play a large role in supporting (or hindering) employee engagement.

When an employee isn’t engaging fully with their work, ask yourself the questions below. They’ll help you see any barriers that you may be responsible for so you can consider what your course of action should be:

  • Have I clearly communicated to the employee what they are supposed to do?
  • Have I communicated why they should do it?
  • Have I set clear expectations?
  • Have I positively affirmed and validated their good work?
  • Have I identified the impact of their poor performance?
  • Have I ensured that they are capable of doing the work?

If you can’t answer these questions in the affirmative or you are unsure how the employee might answer the question, talk to them directly. You might be surprised to hear that most employees want to do better, give more, and make their organization successful.

leaders are often so focused on what they see their employees doing (or not doing) that they fail to consider how their leadership might be creating barriers to engagement.

In addition to reflecting on the questions above, be mindful of organizational factors that may prevent your staff from doing good work or create challenges that are beyond their control.

Leaders are responsible for assessing what factors outside of the employee’s control might be contributing to disengagement and how they can address them.

Here are 3 common barriers to employee engagement:

1. Inadequate Resources

If you expect quality work, you need to provide adequate resources. This includes enough time to do good work as well as the necessary material resources and tools to complete tasks.

2. Unclear Procedures

Carefully consider your workflow processes to identify where your procedures or systems may be frustrating employees and hindering engagement. Asking what workflow issues are slowing staff down may alert you to areas of improvement. “This is how it’s always been done” is not a good reason to continue with inefficient procedures.  

3. Lack of Ongoing Training

Some organizations feel that ongoing training is an unnecessary expense. However, investing in training is a sure way to make the most of your staff’s talents and help them feel like they are growing.

When employees are engaged, you will naturally see an improvement in customer service and innovation.

When employees are engaged, you will naturally see an improvement in customer service and innovation. Your goal should be to eliminate barriers to engagement as you strive to keep our organization performing at its best.

When you pay attention to any factors beyond your employee’s control, you create the right conditions for your staff to engage in their work.

Reflection Questions

  • Think about a time when you were deeply engaged in your work and exceeded expectations. What led to your exceptional performance? What role did the leaders around you play? What does this tell you about the role of leadership in supporting a culture of engagement?
  • Which of your employees shows a lack of engagement? What factors may be contributing to this? What could you do to help them engage more fully in their work?

For more insights on helping employees engage in their work, check out Wendy’s blog How to Motivate Employees.

To learn about additional free FREE RESOURCES, visit our resources page.  

Author

Wendy Loewen

Managing Director

This blog is an excerpt from ACHIEVE’s book, Don’t Blame the Lettuce: Insights to Help You Grow as a Leader and Nurture Your Workplace Culture. Wendy is also the co-author of ACHIEVE’s book, The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace Where People Like to Work. These books are available on our website.

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