Most businesses recognize the importance of their employees yet fail to tap into their full potential.  They micromanage them, limit their authority, destroy initiative, and in general, treat them like cogs in a gear instead of thinking, creative individuals.  And both the business and its customers suffer.

Note: I decided to look for Dilbert cartoons to see what Scott Adams had to say about each topic.  I was not disappointed so I decided to use a two-part approach to each section; my opinion and Dilbert’s.  Hope you enjoy, Sam.

How to generate employee engagement (Section headings from Wikipedia)

Employee perceptions of job importance

Sam – It is nearly impossible to remain engaged in your job when you “know” it is not important!  If the supervisor frequently demonstrates to her employees how the team’s actions and performance impact both their customer’s success and the business’s performance, then people tend to operate in high gear, otherwise they appear to be dragging an anchor.

Dilbert

Employee clarity of job expectations

Sam – How can anyone do a good job unless they know what a good job looks like?  (Well, maybe they can if they are lucky, but that should not count.)  Having clear goals about the most important things to accomplish (see the prior post) and expectations about how to behave at work are prerequisites to being highly motivated.

Dilbert

Career advancement 

Sam – Younger employees have been brought-up to expect instant gratification.  However, in today’s work environment, promotions are harder than ever to get because of downsizing and productivity gains.  Progressive businesses are still withholding “promotions” but give key employees challenging, high visibility assignments that stretch their knowledge and give them a chance grow professionally.

Dilbert

Regular feedback and dialogue with superiors 

Sam – Remember the dreaded annual performance review? Both sides of the discussion hated it.  Today, enlightened managers have a mini-review with each direct report weekly or bi-weekly.  For example, my daughter talks with each of her direct report sometime during the week (not pre-scheduled) and asks things like “how are you doing on achieving your XYZ goal?  Is there anything I can do to help you?  Do you have time to help me do ABC, I’m running behind and can use your insights.”  It’s hard to believe my kid is really doing these kinds of things.  And she will never be the object of this kind of comment –  “What I really wanted to hear was ‘Thanks.  You did a good job.’  But all my boss did was hand me a check.'”

Dilbert

Quality of working relationships with peers, superiors, and subordinates

Sam – This says it all!

Dilbert

Effective internal employee communications

Sam – Employees today want to be a part of something exciting so provide employee communications on a regular basis.  And make it valuable, useful and, most of all, honest.

Dilbert

Titles, offices, and other signs of power

Sam – The trend in start-ups and highly innovative companies is to allow employees to curate their own title and either work remotely or have a table in a large open-area. Here are two examples:▪ Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. Do you work with anyone with the title of evangelist?▪ At Amazon, conference room tables are a collection of blond-wood door-desks shoved together side by side and everyone, including CEO Jeff Bezos, uses the same door-desk.

Dilbert

Key Takeaway

Keep your people motivated and they will make you look like a genius!  And your customers will reward you with retention and growth.