Before we tackle a few key specifics that make employees feel cared for, let’s look at the foundation of what makes that happen. The perception of each employee around four key issues is what helps each of us build engagement with those we lead.
Anthony Sork, a leadership expert based in Australia, led the way in researching these issues. Anthony found that Security, Trust and Value, Acceptance, and Belonging are the cornerstones in helping a new employee “attach” to our company. His patented Employee Attachment Inventory is an easy way to measure and intervene during onboarding when attachment is low.
As a manager, things that help our employees attach and engage, especially during the first 120 days of employment, should be viewed through the lens of these four key perceptions. They form the bond that will cause our people to stay longer, and give us their best!
Let’s look at a few specific ideas managers can use as they seek to build on these key perceptions.
Improve the candidate experience coming in.
Treating candidates like people, rather than like they are a resume unattached to any human emotions, is a key as they come in the door. If you stretch out the hiring process over weeks (or months), with spotty feedback and poor communication, they may take your job when it’s offered – but you have done little to create trust and communicate they will be valued.
Be intentional during the first 120 days of onboarding.
Those 120 days are the Critical Attachment Period when they are deciding just how much effort they will put in to their new role. Having clear communication around expectations for both sides as they come in the door, checking in regularly during those first four months, and finding out how their onboarding is going from their perspective is a key to making them feel secure.
Help them bond with the team.
Assigning a buddy or mentor or coach establishes contacts and friendships that make us feel more comfortable in our new employment homes. When we make friends we feel like we belong. Foster an environment where people can connect and they soon feel like they “belong”.
Give feedback, both good and bad, on a regular basis – and remember Thanksgiving!
Coaching employees through problems and failures is a basic management function. But pointing out what they are doing well, thanking them for specific accomplishments, recognizing the strengths they bring to the team, are all ways of indicating you believe both sides made a good choice when they got “joined at the paycheck”.
Being thankful shouldn’t be limited to a Thursday in November (or a Monday in October for my Canadian friends). Positive comments help people feel accepted. They also pave the way for the inevitable corrective conversations without making the workplace seem negative.
We’ve talked often about the power of this tool. Once someone has been on our team for six months we need to begin these conversations on a regular basis. They keep the open communication going well. They help reinforce we care about them and their careers.
The list goes on! In a world of work where engagement levels have been “stuck” for more than 20 years, it’s time to get back to the basics.
Treat people well (like we want to be treated). Care about them as people, not as “resources”. Remember, as a manager our technical knowledge is important, but developing our ability to manage, lead and connect with people is what management is all about!
We would love to talk with you about driving engagement within your team! Happy Thanksgiving!