This blog post was inspired by a LinkedIn article. Check it out here.
"Teamwork makes the dream work," is one of my favorite cheesy sayings -- I use it all the time. Typically I'm met with laughter or a groan, but, I mean it in earnest when I say it. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs accomplished over the course of the day -- especially if you're like me and frequently bite off more than you can comfortably chew (There are just so many fun opportunities out there!! But more on this in a later post...). A little bit of help from someone else always seems to take that edge off and make everything seem more managable.
It's easy to offer help when you know exactly what a person needs. I especially see this when we have a work call at the theatre where I volunteer (it's amazing how many paralells I see between the theatre world and the business world). When people know exactly what to do -- hammer this into that, sweep over there, attach this piece to that piece -- they're always very eager and happy to help. The story changes when there isn't any clear direction -- you have people standing around, going through the motion of "looking busy" -- and that seems to be the realm that employee engagement lives in. Everyone is engaged by something different (just like you learned in school that different types of students learn differently) so there is no laundry list that can cover everything for every type of person.
The biggest mistake we can make is to assume that employee engagement is the sole responsibility of HR. No disrespect to Human Resources -- we love and appreciate everything that they do!! -- but usually the people who know best what is needed for employees to be engaged are the employees themselves. Leadership definitely has a defining role in engagement: management by walking around, recognition, awards, effective communication, and tech solutions, but what can employees on the floor do for each other?
1. Ask questions. Show genuine interest in finding out what your coworkers are working on. There is a certain amount of accountability established once coworkers show interest and ask about projects.
2. Encourage. Find the value in what your fellow employees are working on and tell them how you can see it's value. Employees know that they have to work on things that their superiors see value in... but when their fellow coworkers also see value in what they're doing, it offers a whole new contex and reason to be engaged.
3. Support. You're busy -- you have your own stuff to do -- but is there something small that you can do to help someone's job be a little easier? Don't do others' work for them, by all means, but offering to proofread a document, send off a mailing, or other smaller obstacles when you have a moment can offer relief and instill the energy needed for your coworker to push through their pile of work. And don't forget -- people remember who was there to help them out, and are likely to be there to support you when your work load gets unmanageable.
4. Inquire. Everyone is swamped with their own to-do list, but try and remember what everyone else is working on, and ask them about it and how it's going!
5. Remember the little things. Never under estimate the power of bringing someone a cup of coffee or bringing an extra cookie in your lunch for that person who's been swamped or working through their lunch hour. It may sound like a very elementary or juvenile act, but these little thoughtful gestures can really do wonders for employee morale. Just knowing someone else remembered and appreciates you can do amazing things!
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