We know that when employees feel good about what they do, productivity goes up, deliverables are met, and customer service improves. But, how long will employees stay focused and committed to your company if they are not learning, developing, and growing? In order for companies to take the current manager-employee relationship to the next level, they must transition their workforce from being engaged to being enabled.
Employee engagement is both the rational and the emotional connection an employee has to your organization, combined with their willingness to unleash their discretionary energy and effort for your cause. In other words, they are intrinsically motivated to do their best work. Research has consistently found that more engaged employees produce significantly better business results for their organizations.
What is Employee Enablement?
When we move beyond engagement to enablement we are empowering our employees with training, development, and the skills and competencies to make smart decisions. Not only will that motivate them in their current job, but it will also give them a path forward for career growth and marketability. When your employees are enabled, they will create exceptional service experiences, giving your business a real and sustainable competitive advantage that is hard for other companies to duplicate. Quite simply, when employees are engaged it leads to better outcomes with everyone doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time, even when no one is watching.
Here's how: An engaged employee will appropriately (and often enthusiastically) deliver customer service using basic tools. If the situation escalates, they are not necessarily enabled to help the customer themselves and may have to bring in a supervisor. When an employee is enabled and empowered to solve problems themselves, they can accelerate response time, personalize their service based on the customer's need and desired outcome, all while providing a hassle-free experience by not having to transfer them to someone else or get back to them hours -- or worse, days -- later. Outcomes in customer loyalty become measurable, and both the customer and the employee experience is considered exceptional. What we find is it is an inside-out proposition. First we have to have great internal experiences department-to-department and person-to-person before we can consistently exceed external customer expectations.
Leadership Style is Key
Management behaviors and leadership style will affect employee engagement and business performance. Thus, it is critical for managers and training professionals to collaborate around both engagement and enablement initiatives.
Some of the steps that must be considered are:
1. Provide engaging learning that develops employee skills and competencies, making them more marketable now, and in the future.
2. Remove obstacles in business practices and unnecessary policies that no longer serve your organization's goals and objectives such as outdated policies that no longer serve the customer.
3. Accurately assess the distinct abilities of each employee, and ensure the right people are in the right role.
4. Focus on non-monetary rewards such as career growth and performance recognition.
Enablement and Experience Factor
To realize the full benefits of employee engagement, employees must be excited about your mission, vision and values, but if they are not enabled to do their job, that excitement will lead to frustration rather than translating into exceptional experiences. Employees who are not just engaged but are also energized and enabled, produce far greater financial benefits than employees who are simply engaged. To achieve this, it is vital that training and development professionals spend 10 times the amount of time, energy, and resources following up and reinforcing learning and engagement principles, as they do designing and delivering them.
Employee engagement, enablement, and empowerment is about sustaining and enhancing the organizational culture.
Your culture is nothing more than the cumulative effect of the stories being shared internally by your employees. When your organization creates the internal conditions that enable people to excel at their jobs and serve customers exceptionally this will drive high levels of employee engagement while simultaneously energizing the employees who are providing exceptional experiences for your customers.
Pete Psichogios is President of CSI International Performance Group, whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. Prior to joining CSI International he served as an executive member of one of the largest Instructional System Association companies in the world. He can be reached at [email protected]