Employee Engagement is Personal, So Personalize Your Approach
How do you as a leader of people personalize your engagement approach for each employee to maximize her or his effectiveness?
Earlier this week we wrote about the utility of Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy as a structure that can help guide your thinking on how to personalize your employee engagement efforts. The basic idea is that any particular engagement technique (bonus, unexpected day off, project with senior leaders, etc.) has a different impact on each employee based on where they fall in the hierarchy.
The Case of the $500 Bonus
Consider the varying impact of an unexpected “thank you” bonus of $500, which you may have the authority to give to an employee for a job well done:
- If the employee is a frontline manager making $45,000 a year, and is clearly still seeking financial security (using Maslow – still in survival mode), that $500 means a lot, and be cherished.
- If the employee has made it into middle management, and is pulling down over $100,000 annually, that same $500 loses some impact, and other recognitions (Friday off before a three-day weekend, commendation letter sent to senior management, meeting the employee and your boss to discuss the success in detail) may have greater impact on sustaining engagement.
- How do you think a senior executive would react to a $500 “thank you” from the CEO? It isn’t nothing, but…
Further research brought us to a similar presentation, which takes another useful angle on how to vary employee engagement methods by the “lifecycle stages” of the employee.
Here are the lifecycle stages Lupfer uses:
Within each stage you must create a set of engagement activities that best support your goal in that stage. The Onboarding through Separation stages are largely within your control as a leader. Attraction is not, but can be abetted by how your employees talk about you/your organization with outsiders. Are they leaving the impression that this is a preferred place to work?
It is OK to ask your employees about this. They may not have considered it themselves, and might be enthusiastic promoters if given the green light (and some guidance as to how to do it professionally!)
Recruitment is also not quite under your control, but you could make the recruitment process a group effort by creatively involving employees in the process with engaging activities that flow directly and seamlessly into the onboarding process.
Clarity of communications during the recruitment process about your team and organizational culture, how you recognize and reward success (and support failure) all should be part of the recruitment pitch. It must mirror how you communicate on the job. (This also supports our Pursuit of Truth mindset about transformational leadership.)
Lupfer goes further, suggesting a consistent philosophy to use to underpin your employee engagement initiatives. Here is what she suggests as a mindset:
It is a worthwhile exercise to step through their presentation to get a sense for how these four factors could be adapted (their word!) to address the specific needs of each lifestyle stage.
See how your organization lines up in each of these stages.
- Do you still have some work to do in flexibly applying employee engagement tactics to each employee’s particular situation?
- Where have you had successes, and where do you still need to focus some energy to improve?
You cannot shotgun engagement, which is why big, strategic engagement initiatives usually fail. You must rifle-shot it, and keep it relentlessly tactical, flexible and completely in the hands of the immediate supervisor to adapt and execute.
*Within both the Development and Retention stages you will also have a range of employee engagement programs and processes, tailored to each person by you, their boss.