Sunday, June 16, 2019

The One Question That Instantly Engages And Empowers Employees

I've read study after study that highlight the rampant lack of engagement that's become so common in workplaces. At any given time, 70% of employees are sleepwalking on the job, according to surveys. Surveys have also exposed that 50% of employees are looking for new jobs. 

While surveys, when responded to honestly, can provide revealing insights, their findings don't offer solutions. That has to come from management and/or leadership. Too often these studies and surveys are gawked at and dismissed without asking the one question that can instantly improve engagement.

After working in over 70 companies in various capacities for several decades, I'v heard this one question raised far too infrequently. As a consultant, I lead with this question. As a coach,  I follow-up with it. Management and leadership should do the same. That question is:

"What do YOU think...?"

It doesn't matter if it's in a meeting, a drop in office visit, or in the company cafeteria. Asking employees what they think about impending decisions, recently made decisions, challenges facing the company relative to operations, strategies, personnel, etc., opens the lines of communication for real dialogue.  

While statistics shed light on lack of employee engagement, company management/leadership needs to be more concerned with the causes of disengagement. such as poor management, poor communication, and poor prospects for career development. 

If management/leadership poses questions such as: "What do you think we should do to improve management/employee relations and/or communications?" or "What do you think your role could be in this company 2 years from now?"  it would improve engagement - instantly.

When we ask questions, we stimulate the brain's neocortex, which is responsible for sensory perception; our awareness of things through our 5 senses. Our thoughts become conscious through verbalization. Hence the term "talk it out". Questions - the right questions - especially one's that provide insights into thoughts, such as "What do you think?", lay the foundation for relationships, strengthens bonds, and creates engagement.

Culturally, managers/leaders should encourage the question of "What do you think?" among staff members, and between employees who work collaboratively. In just about any and every situation where one works with another, rapport gets established and the benefits of engagement ensue. Spend a day posing this question randomly, and see what happens.