Team Engagement Impacts Business Performance

Team Engagement Impacts Business Performance

What do a splash pad and rapid organizational change have in common? Well, several years ago, I was balancing trying to hit certain goals and metrics for Cameron-Brooks.  I set some pretty aggressive goals and interim performance metrics along the way.  At every meeting, I kept the team updated with where we stood relative to our objective. Quickly, the team’s performance metrics indicated that we had achieved the overall goal.  Yet, when I surveyed my team and asked questions to gauge team engagement, I was less than pleased with what I heard.

While reviewing their constructive feedback, the situation reminded me of the splash pad my children grew up playing with (the Slip-n-Slide concept with water shooting through holes across the mat).  In the purest form of childhood entertainment, my kids would plug the holes to see the splash pad’s reaction. With a couple of holes plugged, the pressure would build up and force the water out another hole at a higher rate.  It appears this splash pad experiment parallels what happened to me.  This whole experience made me more aware of my own leadership challenges managing results while also developing and engaging the team.

What can we learn from this experience?  We need to focus on goals, results, and numbers but unless we also engage the team, we will gain only short term results.  If we focus on the numbers and goals only, we will burn out the team and remove the meaning of their work.  We have to find the “and” – results/numbers “and” team engagement.  Here are 4 ideas I have been reflecting on to create the “and”.

  1. Over-communicate with team members. Keep team members informed on where the organization stands performance-wise and why improving operations is important to the overall health of the company.  If they know the “why” behind your efforts, they are going to be a lot more understanding of your drive for results.  If you think you are already communicating enough, my experience has been you probably need to do about 10% more to ensure they get the message and understand the big picture.
  2. Connect Work back to the Company’s Mission. The book 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Wagner and Harter offers many excellent tips on team engagement. The 8th element of great management is “A Connection with the Mission of the Company.”  Take time to explain to EVERY person how their work contributes to the company mission, purpose, values, and customers.  Show them how even the little things they do contribute to the larger success of the company.
  3. Continue to ask team members for input. I love the phrase, “What do you think?”  Genuinely ask the question and listen.  You may not use their ideas, but you will learn what they are experiencing, they appreciate that you value their input and it is likely you will learn from some of their ideas and thoughts.
  4. Celebrate the small wins along the way. You cannot wait until the end of the year to celebrate.  Yes, we call work “work” and not “fun” for a reason.  However, small celebrations, compliments, and high-fives go a long way to keep people motivated.  Our team at Cameron-Brooks celebrates every week with a team snack on Friday afternoons.  I love it.  The team gathers in the kitchen and takes 15 minutes to talk about their weekend plans and about the past week.

If you want to learn more about team engagement, I recommend 12: The Elements of Great Managing as well as visit the Gallup website which has numerous great articles on employee engagement.

– By Joel Junker, VP/Partner, Cameron-Brooks