Over the last few posts, I’ve been writing about the subject of employee engagement – of how it can be fostered in the workforce without elaborate plans or costly incentives, as well as pointing out what employers would gain in creating an engaged team of partners in place of a group of subordinates.
Of course, despite everything that has been written here and elsewhere about the value of employee engagement, there are inevitability many leaders out there who simply refuse to incorporate this viewpoint into how they lead their teams. For employees who work under such leadership, it can be a frustrating and demoralizing experience. However, even though your boss doesn’t see the value in engaging his workforce doesn’t mean employees can’t nurture a respectful and motivating work environment.
Again, we have to remember that creating an engaged workplace is not about status, incentives or pay raises – all of which are things that only our leaders have the power to hand out. Instead, employee engagement is about offering recognition and appreciation for the contributions others give to a shared goal. This is something that every employee can do, regardless of whether their leader sees the value in it or not. Granted, getting recognition from your boss is a big motivator, but there are measures that employees can take to have a similar impact on their co-workers:
1. Be specific about what you appreciate
It’s not enough to simply tell your co-worker that you think they did a good job; that kind of response is too generic and vague to have any real impact. Instead, tell them something specific about their work that you enjoyed or appreciated and why. This will show them that you really did notice their efforts and perhaps even reveal to them how something they view as being unremarkable has caught the attention of their co-workers.
2. Show them you value their expertise
When a leader shows appreciation for the work of their employees, they are essentially telling them they recognize the importance of their contribution to the process. As an employee, you can also create this understanding by asking your co-worker for their help. This will show your team mate that you view them as the in-house expert on this kind of work. This approach will also help in fostering collaboration as your co-workers will feel more inclined to come to you for things they see you as being the in-house expert on.
3. Encourage others to participate
Naturally, you don’t want to be carrying this venture all on your own. Besides, for this to be truly effective, it has to grow beyond the efforts you make to getting others in your team involved as well. For that to happen, make sure you let your co-workers know of your efforts, of how it made the other team members feel and how it made you feel to be able to spread some good news around the workplace. Also, make sure that your leader is informed about these efforts so that they can observe as well how these measures are creating beneficial impacts to the business.
Granted at the end of the day, you are not the leader of your team or organization and as such, you can’t control how management treats its employees. What you can control, though, is how you treat your co-workers and more importantly, what environment you create through your interactions with them.
In a work environment where the leadership doesn’t care to recognize the value of their team members, your efforts to reach out and validate what your team feels about their work will not only fill that void; it will become the driving force your team needs to keep going.
Also, by advising your leadership of these efforts – instead of simply doing them quietly amongst yourselves – will ensure that your leader sees that through these simple acts of recognition, the team has become better aligned toward that shared purpose and have a greater sense of commitment and energy than they did before.
And all because you took advantage of the power that exists in each of us to affect change in our environment, simply by recognizing the value of those around us.