I don’t know how factually correct the CEO of the American tire maker Titan International (Maurice Taylor) was when he launched a brutal attack last week on productivity in France, telling the government that some French workers put in only “three hours” a day.  The issue he raised, though, is a crucial one, and is directly linked to economic success. Did you know that  70 percent of employees in most companies – not just in France – are somewhat disengaged or actively disengaged?

In order to drive growth and deliver steady business results, leaders need to flip that figure around: 70 percent or more of employees need to be engaged.

The former French president and general, Charles de Gaulle, once emphasized the value of military leadership saying: “Men are of no importance. What counts is who commands.” We all know that in today’s workplace things are very different: the old command and control style of management no longer works.  Every leader has to acknowledge that employees are actually of the utmost importance to the organization’s pursuit of its goals.

Best leaders recognize that when employees are engaged, productivity, performance and customer satisfaction all improve because members of staff become more motivated to contribute to the organisation’s success and more willing to put in extra effort to accomplish tasks that are central to the corporate goals.

Research shows that leaders themselves have a significant impact on whether or not employees are engaged.  Much of this comes down to leaders’ attitudes and behavior. If you’re a leader and want to improve the level of engagement in your organisation, then you consider:

1. How actively engaged you yourself are? Be truthful: share the truth about the current state of affairs.  Have integrity in what you say and do.  Inspire confidence in the future of the organization – through your own high level of engagement. Be visible to employees and ‘talk the talk’.  How you ‘show up’ to work is extremely important. Communicate clearly and let them know what is expected of them. Make sure your nonverbal communication is transparent.

2. Do you show respect and recognize employees for their contributions?  Do they know that what they do and who they are matters to their leaders and to their company?  Employee recognition is a critical component of achieving higher levels of engagement. People like to be appreciated, acknowledged and respected.  They also like to know that their opinions are valued –  encourage upward communication. Create opportunities for dialogue with lower-level managers and employees. Their ideas and input will be well worth the effort invested.

3. An employee initiates and sustains engagement when she or he believes that they make a unique contribution or difference to the organization.  What are the ways in which you or your company’s leadership mirror back to employees their unique talents?

4. A common problem in the workplace is limited sight distance. Employees fall into the rut of daily routine, lose sight of the forest behind the trees and become more and more detached from the big picture.  As a leader, it’s important to identify the impact of employees’ contributions and efforts as well as the impact of lack of effort.

5. Cultivate the culture of learning. When you build a learning culture, you invest in long-term employee engagement and long-term business/organizational success. Some ways to do that: taking risks, experimenting and learning from mistakes and from customers. Learning new ways of communicating. New ways of innovation and creativity. Learning how to deal with what seems to be a problem or unfavorable circumstances, and turning them into an opportunity for growth and the next big success.

Nurturing a motivated workforce in challenging economic times is not easy but with the right mindset and tools, it is possible!

Contact ExpatFactor if you need support in boosting your level of engagement, so you can be an inspiring leader and achieve the business results you want.

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