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The Business Advisory Blog

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Vanessa Williams
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8 effective ways to improve team engagement

Mastering the concept of team engagement has become a primary focus in the business industry.

0218 Action Matakana Team Purple-186For many businesses, team engagement is a growing, overwhelming and challenging task around the world. Often confused with team satisfaction or happiness, team engagement has higher prominence when it comes to building a productive, fulfilled and profitable work environment.

While you can make your team happy with a salary increase, the team will still operate at minimum level solely to keep their job. This is not the goal you want to strive for. Rather, strive for a team that is fully invested in your business. With complete team buy-in, not only will the work environment strengthen, but your business, as well as your customers’ businesses, will be more profitable.

You want a motivated team; a loyal team; a diligent team; a team that wants to work for your business, not just for the pay, but for fulfilment and experience. A strong team engagement process is your answer.

1. Vision

For the team to be on the same page, there must be a page to be on.

Start by asking yourself, "Do I have a plan or layout of my vision - for my team, myself and my business? What does that look like?".

Now ask yourself the important question, "Have I articulated my vision to my team so they know and understand what it looks like?".

Your business vision fuels the fire for stronger team engagement. It's the inspiration for your business, it provides direction and it's the backbone of good decision-making. Hold yourself and your team accountable to keep your vision at the forefront of all projects, goals and organisational efforts.

2. Leadership

Once a vision plan is in place, members of the leadership team must practise what they preach.

Leadership has a significant influence on the engagement levels of team members. To drive engagement, the leadership team needs to follow through with vision, plans, strategies and processes.

It's hard for team members and individuals to be engaged and follow through with a plan if leadership doesn't do the same. To effectively enforce processes and plans, the leadership team must demonstrate that they hold themselves to the same standards as the rest of the team. More often than not, well-intentioned plans fail because a leader reverted back to the old systems.

3. Culture standards

Have you documented your culture so everyone knows how they are to behave while interacting with one another?

Team engagement manifests from strong culture standards. Company culture provides a sense of direction, a definition of what's expected and a template of how things get done. It's an overall outline of what team members are working toward. With defined culture standards, team members are more likely to develop a passion, loyalty and commitment to your business. Your culture can become your key competitive advantage to attract and retain personnel.

4. Quarterly themes

Determine your biggest challenge or opportunity for the quarter, how you're going to address it and give it a theme.

Quarterly themes provide proactive, innovative ways to present the goal of each upcoming quarter. Involve your team in the creative aspect of each theme and let them decide what the reward is when they achieve the goal. This will motivate your team and make them feel like they 'own it' so they won't need to be sold on the theme to work toward the goal.

Creating a quarterly theme should be a high priority for your business. Be sure to address, in advance. What will happen if the theme is in jeopardy or isn't met by the end of the quarter.

Each quarterly theme has a daily metric that you can measure and track progress, like the number of customers, number of new opportunities or number of new testimonials. Decorate your office, get every team member involved and have fun reaching your metrics. Some example themes include 'home run, 'together we grow' or 'delivering happiness'.

5. Meetings

Make' more meetings and less time per meeting' your mantra!

Set up a daily meeting (or 'huddle') with your team to address the day's tasks and goals. Keep each meeting short, sweet and to the point. Have attendees stand, be directive and stay on topic. It's best for memory and productivity if meetings are held randomly at odd times like 7:47AM or 8:08AM. During meetings focus on three main questions:
  1. What's up today?
  2. What's your daily metric?
  3. Where are you stuck?
Start with each team member state what they're working on for the day - nothing too descriptive though. Out of those tasks have team members identify their daily metric or the main item they aim to complete that day. Finally, take the time to ask team members if they are stuck on anything. This way they can get input and assistance from other team members to move forward with their daily metrics. Daily meetings will not only help with accountability but will increase participation, engagement between co-workers and engagement in the work that needs to be accomplished.

6. Reporting system

It's a popular management technique called 'open-book management'.

Reporting systems or open book management give every employee access to the company's accounts. It creates a system that empowers everyone to be an entrepreneur. It also allows every team member to become aware of projects, processes or departments that are making or losing money.

Why make an effort to hide the profit, cash flow and revenue? Chances are your team members are able to work out the numbers. If your let your team know they KPIs and the results of those, there is a better chance of achieving those results. An open-book reporting system engages team members to make money, which results in improved financial growth and productivity overall. Reporting systems make your business stronger and also improves the work environment by building loyalty and commitment.

7. Daily sprints

Add some fun, create a competitive spirit, introduce the concept of winning daily prizes for activities completed.

Sitting behind a keyboard all day with limited human interaction can be boring. Why not have some fun and introduce the concept of 'sprints' where there are daily rewards for the activities that get done?

For example, first person to get a completed project out the door receives $10, or the first person to find a project within another project gets a gift voucher. Mix it up, have fun with this and you'll be amazed by the competitive buzz you create. Take things to the next level and hang a bell in your office which is rung in celebration every time a sprint is completed. A fun yet competitive work atmosphere inspires team members to go the extra mile to invest even more in your business and your customers.

8. Accountability

Team members must take ownership of the results of their responsibilities.

Every team member is responsible for holding other team members, including managers, accountable. Likewise, all managers need to not only hold their team accountable but demonstrate that they hold themselves accountable to the same standards. Accountability allows people to be responsible for their own success and, when paired with engagement, team members exemplify discretionary efforts in work responsibilities.

It's key to remember that if you want someone to be accountable, they must be in control of what they are accountable for. Each person needs to be able to implement whatever it is. The bottom line is that accountability in business is directly correlated to team engagement. Zero accountability means lacklustre engagement.

Colin Dunn is a Director and Co-Founder of PANALITIX. Article by PANALITIX Accounting Firm Consulting Services & Business Improvement. First published on 9 May 2018 -

Topics: culture employees key performance indicators leadership Performance team