5 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement in Strategy
For leaders to successfully execute strategy and achieve the results they want, everyone in their organization needs to support and buy-in to the plan, from management to the manufacturing floor. The best way to achieve this kind of organizational climate is to ensure you are engaging employees so that they feel ownership of the projects they are assigned and the new roles they are being asked to play. Here are five ideas to improve the level employee engagement in your strategy.
1. Explain Why – Help people understand the strategy and why it is important that they be involved (and engaged) in its execution. Help them see why their opinions and actions matter and that you value them as employees. When people understand why and believe their contributions are valued, their commitment and buy-in increase exponentially.
2. Ask for Input – Take time to ask for the input of your people. Trust the fact that they are probably the most knowledgeable about their respective functional areas of responsibility and their opinions are worthwhile. Ask follow up and clarifying questions. Avoid questions that are judgmental or negative. Allowing employees the opportunity to provide input is the first step toward commitment.
3. Save Your Comments for Last – To be blunt, shut up and listen. Once you have asked for input, don’t start adding your ideas. Too many leaders feel that they need to speak up in every setting. There is a time and place for you to express your opinions. If you want to build commitment and buy-in, be sure you give the employee plenty of room to offer ideas. Be a good listener.
4. Don’t Use “But” – When you react to someone’s comments or ideas with a “But” you have basically shut them down. This can be truly damaging to any effort you are making to get your people to open up with ideas and suggestions. Try replacing the “But” with “And” in any sentence and you will see how it changes the meaning and feeling of the discussion.
5. Be Sincere – If you have already decided on a course of action and the goal has already been set, don’t ask people for their opinions. The effort to engage employees is not intended as a way to manipulate people into commitment and buy-in. If you are not sincere about engaging them, it will backfire on you. This only works if you are truly interested in your employees’ opinions and want their participation.
Will these steps guarantee that employees will feel ownership to the strategic plan? Not right away. However, the more you include your employees in a collaborative and supportive way in solving strategic issues, the more people will feel ownership in the process and in what needs to get done to achieve the results you want. If you have an experience engaging your employees, we would like to hear from you.