by Mark Marone  |  March 27, 2020  |  10 Minute Read

Key Insights

  • Engage remote employees on a daily basis and making it a priority.
  • Choose a REMINDER you like to cue you to take action
  • Your ROUTINE is the action you take every time the reminder activates.
  • REWARD is what you earn for taking the action of honoring your commitment to engaging your employees daily

How Outstanding Managers Make Employee Engagement a Daily Habit

With all your competing priorities as a leader in this time of crisis, are you having trouble finding time for employee engagement? This blog addresses a big item on your “to do” list:
• Engaging remote employees on a daily basis and making it a priority.

You want to keep your virtual team being productive and committed, and that means you have to make employee engagement a daily habit.

Our employee engagement research shows that teams whose managers make employee engagement a daily priority (as opposed to managers who “never,” “rarely” or “occasionally” think about or plan for employee engagement) are almost three times more engaged than teams whose managers do not.

That’s a remarkable difference. With triple the engagement levels, it means some organizations are doing a lot better than others in meeting their performance objectives. That’s because engaged employees are happier and more productive than their disengaged colleagues. What’s more, organizations with high rates of fully engaged employees enjoy increased profits, lower turnover, and greater customer satisfaction than their competitors.

So how do you maintain this in the face of a crisis, when workers are suddenly dispersed, in fear of losing their jobs, uncertain and anxious about the crisis around us?

Making Engaging Virtual Teams Part of Your Daily Schedule Isn’t That Hard

But it takes consistency—and a mental shift.

While you may understand what engages employees, or even studied the topic intently, it turns out that being effective at something comes less from acquiring knowledge about it and more from acquiring the skills to do it. It’s the difference between understanding something conceptually and mastering the performance. You might have an incredible fantasy baseball team, but no pitching ability yourself. And just because you read a lot about pitching techniques, it doesn’t mean you’ll be a star player the first time you step on the mound.

So let’s review what we know about engaging employees. We know, among other things that at the least, managers must:

  • Develop strong and meaningful interpersonal relationships
  • Engage in authentic conversations
  • Empower employees
  • Recognize each person’s unique talents and reward their efforts and accomplishments

Now, it’s about practicing these and becoming skilled as you are leading virtually until you adopt new habits and routines that will allow you to become truly effective at engaging your remote team.

3 Steps to Making Engaging Remote Employees a Daily Priority

Simply put, you can change your life by changing your habits. It takes just three steps:

  1. Reminder – the trigger that initiates the new behavior
  2. Routine – the action you take every time the trigger activates
  3. Reward – the benefit you realize every time you take the action

Do this repeatedly and conscientiously, and before you know it, you’ll have a new way of behaving. Let’s take a closer look at these three steps.

  1. Choose whatever REMINDER you like to cue you to take action. Developing a new habit involves pairing a cue or a reminder to a behavior. Think about how the new typical day emerges as your team works remotely. What cues could you employ every day to prompt you to take an action to reach out to one of your employees? Is it getting your first cup of coffee? A quick virtual stand-up meeting? Is it finishing up your daily manager’s report? Is it returning from lunch? Whatever it is, that cue prompts your routine.
  1. Your ROUTINE is the action you take every time the reminder activates.

When you get that cue, take an action to engage one or more of your employees. Let’s say you spend 20 minutes each day or maybe a few times a week meeting with each of your team members. That time can be spent doing any of the actions bulleted above – developing or strengthening a relationship by asking more about an employee’s new home workspace, or perhaps offering some praise or recognition for adapting to the new conditions. Over time, you’ll take all of the actions with all of your employees.

  1. REWARD is what you earn for taking the action of honoring your commitment to engaging your employees daily.

A reward can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, while practicing social distancing of course, or even checking off an item on a spreadsheet can provide positive feedback. Put “who” on one axis and “what” on the other. Who are your direct reports? What actions do you need to take to engage them?

If you fill your spreadsheet with dates instead of checkmarks, you’ll know when you took what action and with whom. That way, no one is left out and you’ll be able to see just how much you’ve accomplished.

Start another worksheet next month. After a month or two, do an analysis. Are your 20 minutes each day enough to make sure you touch each employee in meaningful ways and on a regular basis? Adjust as necessary. As your behavior becomes a habit, you will find that you’re beginning to work engagement into other parts of your day including remote team meetings, emails and other virtual communications, which means engagement is no longer something else on your to do list; it’s just the way you do things. It’s a habit.

Now It’s Up to You

You know what you need to do to engage remote employees in this new work environment we’re in today, and you know how to develop the habit that makes engaging employees a daily priority. Why not start doing it today?

If you need help with developing the interpersonal relationships that employee engagement requires, check out our white papers or training programs at dalecarnegie.com.sg

Written By

Mark Marone
Mark Marone, PhD. is the director of research and thought leadership for Dale Carnegie and Associates where he is responsible for ongoing research into current issues facing leaders, employees and organizations world-wide. He publishes frequently on various topics including leadership, the employee/customer experience and sales. Mark can be reached at mark.marone@dalecarnegie.com.

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