Creating a workplace where employees are engaged and happy is one of the greatest challenges to leaders. At the heart of the problem is that employee behavioral motivations are not always expressed, nor are they always aligned with their manager’s style. This looks like a manager providing (or not) engagement opportunities that help individuals grow and feel happy at work. So, what are the factors, as a manager, you can contribute to positive employee engagement?
Know your own behavioral tendencies
First and foremost, you should know how your own behavior is influenced by work experiences. What gives you satisfaction in your job? What doesn’t motivate you? Questions like this, or results from assessments such as a DISC or PeopleKeys 4D assessment, provide more self-awareness about your own behavior. Your management style is driven by your behavioral tendencies, which means you may miss opportunities to motivate others who don’t share your behavioral style. Also, assess your team so you can recognize their unique preferences in the workplace. Once you understand the gap, you can put together an effective plan to provide stronger engagement experiences for your team.
Ensure your employees are heard
One strong indicator of employee engagement is the number of employee ideas you have implemented in the workplace. This means not only listening to everyone’s thoughts, but asking questions that help you to better understand their thinking. Impatient personality styles, such as the “Dominant” and “Compliant” DISC styles, may take the time to listen, but quickly decide the idea won’t work. While this may be an efficient decision-making process, it is not effective at promoting employee engagement. Chances are one of your managers listened to one of your ideas and let you run with it, even if it wasn’t how they would have done it. “Influential” and “Steady” DISC styles are better at listening to others and making them feel heard. These two styles may also delay taking action, resulting in a loss of employee trust. Employees will feel truly engaged when they are able to put their ideas into practice.
Give achievement and recognition how it’s due
Once again, your leadership style will drive how you reward and recognize others for their contributions. The recognitions you find motivating will not necessarily do the same for those employees with different personality styles than you.
There are two basic motivator buckets: intrinsic and extrinsic. Someone with intrinsic motivation may not care much about public recognition. In fact, many intrinsic people don’t care for public attention. The intrinsically motivated employee desires recognition in the form of being asked to solve new challenges or learn new skills. They also prefer personalized notes or one-on-one appreciation for their work rather than public acknowledgment.
Extrinsically motivated employees do enjoy public acknowledgment for their success. They seek approval of others, so rewarding them in front of their peers goes a long way to making them happy. Opportunities might include making a presentation at a meeting or being asked to lead a workshop at a professional conference. Receiving verbal or material accolades in front of their team will have them beaming, looking for the next project to lead. As you might imagine, only providing one or the other type of motivational opportunities will have the opposite impact on half of the employees.
Sometimes, observable behavior alone is not enough. At PeopleKeys, we’ve had success using our Behavioral Attitude Styles Index to match job roles with an employee’s primary behavioral attitude. When they align, the team member feels fully engaged, creating a positive work experience. For example, one of the behavioral attitudes, Knowledge/Proficiency, loves to learn new things above all else. This is intrinsic motivation, so merely increasing their pay or giving them an impressive new title will do little to increase their engagement satisfaction. Ask them to solve a persistent problem, however, and watch them light up at the thought of the challenge. On the other hand, someone with a primary behavioral attitude style of “Economic/Tangible” will only take on the same project if they knew it would result in a larger pay bonus.
Understanding our own personality and behavioral styles first will improve our ability to create positive employee engagement experiences. By listening to all styles, providing them with opportunities to do the type of work that they desire, and rewarding them in the way that motivates them creates a desirable workplace culture that leads to business growth.