“My analogy about employee engagement is, it’s like a bank account. So, the more credit you have in your bank – the more engagement you have in your bank – the more things you can go and buy for your business.” – Victoria Bond
Welcome to part 2 of our Employee Engagement blog series, this time focusing on what we’ve learned from the podcast with Victoria Bond. Victoria launched SpaceHR – a tech-centric employee engagement agency. They use WhatsApp as their survey platform and turn insight into action.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on two things we didn’t look at previously: Clarity and Meetings.
“I’m having a lot of conversations about work-life balance at the moment, as you can imagine, and what return into the office looks like. There is a gap that’s opening up and sometimes the gap in engagement is around the inconsistencies and the lack of clarity about what the plan is and sometimes it’s about, ‘You’re forcing me one way or another and it’s not what I want.’”
When we say clarity, we mean employees understanding the company and the plan, and the management understanding the employees and what they want and need.
We will start with the latter. It is important to ask for feedback, to make sure your vision and your employees’ vision are aligned, but you must make sure you are ready for this step. Because if you use surveying tools on your employees but you don’t know what to do with the responses or are not ready to action them, it will only do your company harm.
“It’s a really bizarre concept saying, ‘I only care about the feedback and the opinion of my employees once a year’. That’s really odd isn’t it, if you think about it. And to then not do anything with that information once they’ve taken the time to give it to you, it’s just straight up disrespectful. That’s when those tools and those platforms and the surveys become quite damaging, they do the opposite to what they are meant to do.”
But if you are ready for the feedback and ready to take risks and make changes based on what you get back, then it can help your business grow. Here’s one of Victoria’s success stories that we found particularly inspirational:
“We did their first survey and Amy, the MD, was like ‘Oh, I really don’t know what to expect, I’m dead nervous’, and I’m sat here thinking ‘These results are going to be cracking, she’s got nothing to worry about’. We did the first survey and their results were, no exaggeration, almost full marks, just incredible, to the point where I got the team to go and check the maths in the background cause I’ve never seen anything like it. She’s got a really engaged team. So, I was thinking ‘What’s the conversation I’m going to have with Amy? What advice can I give her? ‘Cause Amy can probably come and give me some advice about employee engagement at this point!’. But the conversation that we had was that Amy had loads of credit [see the analogy at the start] in the bank, so we talked about ‘What are you going to do with it? Because you can make quite a lot of change in your business, you can ask some more from your team, you can take some more risks, you’re still going to be really in credit’. Then I checked back in, like I always do when it’s time to take another survey, and she’s told me she’s opened up an international division. And part of the reason she’s done that is because she knew that that team were behind her.”
Now, to build your credit, you will have to make sure that your employees are always receiving the message and not only that, but you must make sure they understand it. This part is essential, you don’t want to leave room for speculations. It may sound complicated, but it is not. After you delivered a big message, after you made a big announcement, just go back to your employees and ask them “Did you understand the topic of the meeting?”, “Did the message land well?”, “What else do you need to fully understand this new plan/ new direction?”.
Don’t be afraid to ask and make your employees comfortable enough that they can feel like they can ask you too!
With this we are referring to 1-to-1, monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, or whatever your company does. We think that how Victoria explained it in the podcast was spot on so we’re just going to go with that:
“I think sometimes when you’re in a leadership role it’s dead easy to get lost and so consumed in the doing of your role, and actually being a leader is facilitating the success of other people, and you need to make sure you’ve got time to do that, and I mean significant time. It should be the majority of your role. I’ve always run 1-to-1s with questions like ‘What’s your blockage?’, ‘What can I do to make you go faster?’, ‘What do you want to achieve?’ so they are not looking backwards, they are looking forward. So recognition, and job well done etc, that should be in the moment, so don’t gloss over anything that’s happened and has been achieved. But those meetings, my view is, they should be forward-looking – ‘What can I do to facilitate your success?’”