KaiNexus, will you be my Valentine?
Do you know what Saturday is? Of course you do. Depending on your current relationship status, it’s either marked on the calendar as Valentine’s Day, or Single’s Awareness Day. As for me, I have a baby photoshoot planned to mark the occasion (follow me on Twitter to see how it goes), followed by a family date at a local restaurant in my Virginia mountain town.But do you know who I’d really like to buy chocolates and an outrageously large stuffed animal for?
Yup, that’s right. I love the company I work for so much that I’d like to take it out to dinner and celebrate. Don’t you wish that your employees loved their jobs that much? It’s actually not such a far-fetched goal! With the right employee engagement strategies, you too could start racking up the Valentine’s Day cards from your staff.
Here’s a few ways that relationship is built at KaiNexus:
Share the mission and goals
Simon Sinek says in his book Start With Why that you don’t want to hire people who can just do the job - you want to hire people who “believe what you believe.” The first kind of employee will work just hard enough to earn a paycheck, but the second will work with their blood, sweat, and tears. That, my friend, is dedication to the job (for more about this, check out this blog post)
An important part of hiring - and working with - people who believe what you believe is TALKING about those beliefs. Sharing your organization’s mission and goals with employees at every level is an important part of getting them to buy in to your core belief system. And if you can do that, your staff will be a powerful force for improving the organization to achieve those goals.
A few weeks ago, KaiNexus had our first ever annual employee retreat in Austin, Texas. We had a lot to cover in just two days, but we spent the first couple of hours taking turns talking about our beliefs and the mission of the company. Let me tell you, it was the most inspiring thing I’ve been a part of in a long time. I work with these people all day, every day, but it’s not often that we take the time to sit around and talk about the mission to revolutionize the way organizations manage improvement and innovation that pushes us to work harder and dream bigger every day.
KaiNexus is successful because we all share that mission. We’re inspired by each other, and that drives us in everything we do. How powerful would your workforce be if you were able to impart your organization’s mission and dreams to every employee? How much would improvement and innovation increase in their daily work? Start talking about it, and let me know how it goes. I bet by next year, you’ll rethink who you ask to be your Valentine.
Provide consistent feedback
Regular and timely feedback - both positive and negative - is critical to engaging your employees in their work. It makes them feel appreciated, and like you care about what they’re doing. If they know that their work matters to you, they’re going to exert more discretionary effort for you… and how will they know their work matters to you, if you don’t give them feedback?
A great example of this came up for me recently. My boss asked me to create a checklist of some recurring tasks, so that he doesn’t have to worry that I’m forgetting about things. A reasonable request, but a little annoying for me to keep up with since I already know everything is done on time. But my boss is awesome and I don’t want him to have to worry, so I’ve been doing it for him. A couple of days ago, I got this email:
That was it - no text in the body of the email, just five words. How much effort did that take him? 10 seconds? But do you know what? I saw that and thought “Awesome, Greg is looking at what I’m doing, and he appreciates it.” And now when I check something off the list, I know that Greg is noticing. With that 10 seconds of effort, my boss let me know that he cares about what I’m doing. Sure, I would have kept up with the checklist if he hadn’t sent that email, because he’s my boss and he told me to. But would I want to slap on some high heels and take KaiNexus out for Valentine’s Day? I think not.
Trust that your employees are talented
The people you hired are good at their jobs. Right? Let’s hope so - otherwise you might have some organizational rearranging to do. A critical failing of a lot of managers is that they try to micromanage the day-to-day actions of their employees, when in reality they’re perfectly capable of performing well on their own. How frustrating would it be to have someone trailing your every move, when you know you’re good at what you’re doing?
I’m lucky enough to work for a company that trusts me to do good work, and to do it efficiently. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck challenging my productivity. My checklist helps with that by giving me an easy way to reassure my boss about a few things, giving me more time to work on other projects. That allows me the freedom I need to let the creative juices flow in everything else I do, which works out really well for KaiNexus. For example, I created this fun quiz about employee engagement a couple of weeks ago, which ultimately introduced KaiNexus to a ton of new people. If I had someone tailing me, I wouldn’t feel free to spend time developing new, clever content like that for our website. And I certainly wouldn’t be handcrafting a Valentine’s Day card for the company any time soon.
Invest in the development of people
Do you know what you get if you make your employees stick with the same old thing day in and day out? You get the same old results from them. If you want creative, inspired, interesting employees who are able to come up with original ideas about improving your organization, you need to invest in their personal and professional development.
KaiNexus has this down to an art. If there’s something I want to learn, my leadership team inevitably gives me the thumbs up to power full steam ahead. For example, we use Hubspot in our marketing efforts. Hubspot offers several levels of training classes, and I want to take them all. Sure, I know enough now that I can do my job well… but KaiNexus knows that if they allow me to invest some time in these classes, I’ll learn a lot more about how to do my job better. So while the classes are enriching for me on a personal level, investing in my development benefits the company too. Encourage your employees to learn and grow on the job, and watch out for the boxes of conversation hearts that’ll trickle in as they express their appreciation for your investment in them.
What employee engagement strategies work for your company? Leave a comment and tell me about it.