What do your employees even do?

My inbox and timeline are consistently filled with employee engagement tips. Every day I get something from a vendor or two trying to pitch an HR Tech tool to solve employee engagement or a white paper on effective employee engagement strategy. No matter how well written or how well thought out these tools are, they almost always miss an important factor.

The secret?

Just kidding, I’ll tell you

You can’t solve employee engagement without the employee. I know you just rolled your eyes (I can see you) because we already know this, but I see it all the time. You have a meeting with great discussion about what to roll out next, how to bridge the gap, and timelines for the next three emails but you still don’t include the employees. If you do include employees you get feedback and say “oh, we can’t do that” and immediately pivot and go in another direction. Your employees deserve more information though, why can’t we do that?

The absolute number one thing missing from a more effective employee engagement strategy is you knowing and understanding what the employees at your organization do. No one believes that you value them once they figure out that, at best, you know their job title. No value, no engagement. When you roll out initiatives that have nothing to do with actual employee pain points, you are likely making engagement worse. You shouldn’t make employees adapt to how corporate wants things done and figure out how to serve your customers; you should let your employees serve your customers and let corporate adapt to the needs of the employees.

I absolutely do NOT mean survey your employees, I mean TALK to them

Throwing an ice cream social or sending company swag or buying a new tech tool only puts a band-aid over the real issue. Put the brakes on all the planning you’re doing right now and take some time to get to know your employees. Really find out about the work they do, and why they do it. Build from there. Then at your next ice cream social (if you must have one), celebrate their work, celebrate them.

I’ll always tell y’all that we over-complicate the HR function, we add unnecessary layers and extra meetings but employee engagement talk has gone too far off path. You can’t solve your employee engagement issues by talking to other HR Pros if you haven’t talked to your employees first. When you do talk to your employees, make sure you listen- don’t explain away their feedback and mold it to fit what you think the problem is, really listen to them. I’m telling you once you build this foundation, your employee engagement has potential to soar. That’s when you need to consider the tech tools to ENHANCE it, don’t kid yourself for one second into thinking that technology = engagement because it does not. Its only a piece of the puzzle and no one is really interested in using your tech tool if they know you aren’t really interested in them.

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Linda…

Career lesson 18 is about to be the hardest for some of y’all.

Listen.

linda listen

I understand why you may think you know it all, you just graduated with your degree. You passed all your classes and got A’s on all your projects. You studied all the HR legal cases and you memorized the “steps to recruiting” and maybe even competed in a SHRM Case Study competition.

You probably don’t know everything about where you just started working though. You may know case-law and how to plot compensation, but you don’t know why the organization does things the way they do.

You don’t know what it’s like yet to be the benefits manager and sit with employees going through medical trauma who need your help understanding the benefits plan.

You don’t know what hiring managers needs are yet because you don’t know what they do yet.

You don’t know how to run an HR department yet, because you haven’t learned the business yet.

So for today, listen. Take notes. Ask questions.

I can be great all by myself

You can have great ideas all by yourself, but you can’t always be great all by yourself.

be great

Everyone needs a mentor. I need a mentor because I’m the blunt friend/co-worker/employee and I’ve found that it’s very hard to find someone to be blunt with you when you’re the blunt friend/co-worker/employee. Its’ fine, it’s just the way the world works.

What you can get instead is a mentor. I find that mentors are more willing to give it to you straight and set you back on the right path.

Find you a mentor.

Don’t wait for a company to assign you one as a new hire, find your own. Your mentor should be someone you aspire to be like or value. They should be someone who is an example of what/who you would like to be like. Strong mentor/mentee relationships are the ones that are grown organically, not the ones paired up through a program.

Be honest with your mentors.

Don’t paint stories of work challenges in a way that make you look more favorable than you actually were. Mentors can’t help you correct if you don’t tell the whole truth. The reason you have a mentor is to be better, so don’t cover up the ugly.

Listen to your mentors.

Didn’t you choose your mentor for a reason? You don’t have to do everything they say, but listen to what they share. You can’t take your professional development to the next level without perspective.

Mentors aren’t always forever.

Like many other relationships sometimes mentors are only for a season. Don’t ignore the signs to move on.

In 2019, find you two mentors. Find people who will be excited to help you be great.