Employee Engagement: Communication Breakdown

Photo credit: TransGriot

A wise person once said, “Ask the people who do the work.  They know the problems, but they also have the solutions.”

Where do I think all of this starts?  I’m glad you asked!  Recently, my company has been reviewing our annual employee engagement survey results and I have been inspired to write several blog posts from the conversations around this topic.  Don’t worry – I’m starting slow.  I won’t push it too much.

Employee engagement.  Now, there’s an interesting term.  Engage employees…hmm…it’s not as tough as it sounds.  How?  Engage them in decision-making and creative thought process, task forces, committees, advocacy or employee resource groups (ERG).  Why?  It’s simple.  Employees who feel they’re valued and what they’re doing makes a true difference stay longer because they’re happy.

What?  It’s that simple?  Well, maybe not exactly.  Sure, change takes time.  It sometimes takes some serious time, but if you pay attention to the little things below, it could make a big difference:

Communicate.  People want to know what’s going on.  If changes are being implemented, the natural reaction is to ask why.  Help them understand this.  Ask them what they would suggest to help make the organization more effective and efficient.  You’ll be surprised at some of the answers you get.  As the opening quote alluded to, the people on the ground floor know what is going on.  They know what works, what’s broken, and have ideas on how to fix it.  Before making your decisions at the top, ask others across your organization for their insight.

Learn…ConstantlyBenjamin Franklin said, An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Do you learn something new every day?  If not, why?  Life’s experiences teach us many lessons – what to do, what NOT to do and so on.  Learning from those lessons moves us forward.  Not learning from them keeps us static, sometimes moving us backward in life.  What are you doing every day to make yourself a better employee (or potential employee), manager, husband, wife, mother, father, etc.?  Big changes take time, but if you take small steps every day, you’ll achieve your goal before you know it.  Make sure that what you’re learning every day can be applied – just because you learn that peanuts are an ingredient in dynamite doesn’t mean it’s going to get you very far.  Sure, it’s knowledge you can win Trivial Pursuit with, but what are the other practical applications?  Unless you’re a Demolitions Specialist…

Stay with me here.  Learning constantly does have a connection to employee engagement.  Learn about what’s going on at their level.  Get to know them better.  Learn what makes them tick.  Why?  You’ll get some great ideas and you’ll know how to work with them in the future.  What does this do?  It gains TRUST.  Build trust.  Never stop building it.  You’ll be glad you did.

These are just two things that could help with employee engagement.  What are your tips?  What did YOU learn today?  Please leave a comment below, tweet this, send it on to your Google + circles, share to Facebook or LinkedIn.  Pay it forward.  Thank you for reading!

Campus To Career

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5 thoughts on “Employee Engagement: Communication Breakdown

  1. Great post, Kirk!

    I am glad to see someone continue to push that communication is key! There isn’t anything more that creates disengagement, mistrust, or confusion than lack of communication.

    Can’t wait to see your future posts based on the EE engagement survey.



  2. ‘…the people on the ground floor know what is going on.’

    Quote of the day for me. Engagement is about reaching out to your employee, about treating them like individuals, about empowering them to better themselves, their skills, their time, their own productivity. Too many companies forget this, forget that getting the most out of your employees isn’t squeezing the numbers and crunching the data, but giving them the power and the encouragement and the means to succeed within their role.

    You understand what your employees want and need and you feed that back into their roles. It doesn’t have to be difficult…


  3. The problem with “communication as prescription” is that there isn’t enough emotional language proficiency (e.g. “E.Q”) inside most organizations by which to facilitate conversations that lead to discovery and trust-building between supervisors and employees.

    As such, we get the “how are you feeling about XYZ” and a variation on the theme of “fine,” “ok” etc.

    That this problem of communication exists is why http://www.happiily.com exists so as to facilitate communication through a trusted, secure and anonymous 3rd party more than just once a year (at the time of an employee survey).

    So I’m not disagreeing with the advice, just saying that in order to put this into practice, it requires assistance from either tools like ours, or lots of hands-on coaching or both.


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