In the last article, I looked at how training – explaining the role of a job, rather than the processes – can help engage employees. Now let’s expand on that and look at the concept of engagement from an employee’s point of view and its value to an organisation.
Unless you are in the uncommon position – especially at the C level – of owning the business in which you work, you are effectively an employee, and as such are responsible to others, whether it be an individual or a board. At this level, you’ll also have people reporting to you, so you’re a link in a chain.
Interestingly you can append a range of values to this chain. The most obvious is responsibility. Generally, responsibility cascades from the top of the chain, with reducing importance to the organisation, not necessarily the individual) as it flows through the organisation.
Another value that can be attributed to the chain is money. Like responsibility the financial value associated with each link tends to reduce as it moves from the top down.
There are two more values that can be associated with the chain that don’t follow the familiar top down pattern – motivation and productivity. Unlike responsibility and dollar value, these are factors that can vary considerably along the chain. In a way, they are independent of a person’s place within an organisational structure.
However, while motivation and productivity can be independent of organisational variables, they are usually dependent of each other. If we define productivity as the efficiency with which an employee achieves – or over-achieves – the objectives of their role, the motivation to do so is an important factor.
By objectives, in this context, it’s important to note that I am referring to more than the metrics of an employee’s output. Any progressive organisation today includes factors such as work-life balance and personal satisfaction as part of the objectives of every role.
Factors such as these also knit in neatly to an analysis of what is commonly associated with a motivated person. I think of it as holistic motivation. Unlike the carrot of a financial bonus, which can be transient and have a negative effect in other areas (think work-life balance etc.) holistic motivation is embedded in the way a person performs their role.
Holistic motivation is also characterised by a sense of a person taking ownership of their role. Some employees (and these are like diamonds!) will seek to do this themselves and alert mangers will sense this and support them by giving them the ability to do so. Some people will have to be managed through the process, while others may not wish, or be prepared, to consider the concept of owning their job. Any organisation should carefully assess the future of the latter people – especially if they have any degree of managerial responsibility.
So, what can you do as a manager to expedite delegating ownership?
First talk about employee ownership. It’s the foundation upon which engaged teams are built. Make sure your people know that you’re available to provide guidance, remove barriers, and help them find the fulfilment of owning their job.
If this sounds challenging, it’s because it can be. It’s a major, or subtle change of management style, depending on where you are coming from. This is just one of the areas in which executive coaching has proven to be effective in helping managers to implement positive change in their teams – and encourage team members to own their own jobs, while the managers become leaders, showing the way.