Recently I attended a one-hour overview of employee engagement issues presented by Chris Taylor of Actionable Books. He said that Gallup’s most recent Q12’s results showed that only three out of ten employed people come to work focused on doing their jobs well or better than ever; 18% are actively disengaged in their work. He cited other studies and statistics that show that the much of the American workforce is not fully engaged in its work, though the USA does far better than most other countries on every measure.
And what are the two most important determinants of a person’s willingness to give it his all?
- Relationship with his manager
- Relationship with peers
In short, relationships matter, as all of us in the fields of early care and education, family support, child abuse and neglect prevention, home visiting, disabilities, and other human “helping” endeavors know. And of course, people’s satisfaction with their jobs has an impact on productivity, turnover, and the bottom line. For us, the bottom line means great outcomes for children and their families.
The easiest way to build a relationship is to have a conversation, and Taylor recommended to the audience The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. Here’re the five basic questions to ask employees in a one-on-one conversation:
- What’s on your mind?
- And what else?
- What’s the real challenge here for you?
- What can I do to help?
- What was most useful for you [in this conversation]?
And if you want extra bonus points, you can add, “Let me tell you what was most useful to me.”
Though so simple and obvious, I found this advice to be really helpful, and I look forward to my next talk with my colleagues!