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Improving Employee Engagement

By Andrew Messer AFIML, Manager of the Application Services Unit at the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA)

Every leader wants, or should want, an engaged team of people. Much has been written about how employee engagement is the key to customer engagement, because engaged employees care about their customers.

But engagement is not a switch you can flick. Employee engagement actually starts with leader engagement – people just won’t engage with a leader who has clocked off.

As leaders, we have to be intentional about this. We’ve got to be active and take the first step.

That’s why I make a point of asking my people these two questions, and not just once, but as often as it takes. These two questions are simple but they are empowering. They prompt people to think – sometimes about things they haven’t thought about much or enough.


Ask your people these two questions

    1. What do you want to achieve?
    2. How can I help you do that?

You’ll notice that the first question is not directly and specifically about what they want to achieve in their job – but the context of this conversation with a team member tends to guide their thinking this way.  It’s either about what they want to achieve in their job or in their career.

I get three main types of responses to this – “I don’t really know”, “I’ll have a think about that”, or a specific answer.  If they can’t provide a specific answer, then you can’t ask the second question – it just becomes a statement of intent.

It is our responsibility as leaders to help our people identify their goals and help them to achieve them. Sometimes people need a push to consider this, because it’s so easy for them to get comfortable.

But when your people get to a point where they can give a specific answer, it’s great to see how they light up when you ask the second question.


How does this help increase engagement?

These questions will help to increase your team’s engagement in three ways:

  • When people have thought about their goals and know they will be supported, their engagement is increased. They are going to come in to work more inspired by having a personal goal they can achieve and knowing they have a backer – you!
  • When you have offered to help people develop and you are sincere about following through, your engagement is increased. You can’t make this offer half-heartedly, you have to mean it and do it – but you will find it is one of the most rewarding things you can do as a leader.
  • And when you’ve done this process with your people, and you encourage them to lead the same way and do the same with their teams, their peoples’ engagement is increased. It’s incredible to watch this sort of thing move forwards and radiate outwards across a larger team.

And that is the beginning of developing an engaged culture, where personal and professional development becomes part of the DNA of your organisation.  And what leader doesn’t want that for their team?



Want to hear more on engaging and inspiring your team? Andrew will be speaking at our Brisbane Conference on the 2nd November 2017 about the ‘ability to inspire’. Book Now and don’t miss this insightful event!





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