How to Cultivate Engaged Employees

You’ve hired a team of individuals with the skills, experience and knowledge to do their jobs well. Chances are, these employees sometimes go above and beyond their mandated responsibilities and lead projects or otherwise help keep workplace morale high.

But what about employees with hidden talents who might further benefit your organisation? Is your current operational structure stifling their innovative ideas or otherwise keeping other qualities absent from view?

In today’s red-hot competitive marketplace, employees are (or should be) among every business’s chief assets. But how much more could you derive from their abilities and industry knowledge if you make the time and offer the resources to cultivate those talents? Here are tips for achieving this laudable goal:

Establish individualised development plans.

No two individuals progress at the same pace. That’s why a generic, “one-size-fits-all” employee development policy is likely to fail.

A better alternative involves having a manager or someone within HR meet with employees and dive deeper into their particular interests and professional ambitions. This can help pinpoint the kind of development plan that’s best for them.

From there, as Forbes advises, “provide a road map … that includes measurable goals and a realistic time frame for achieving each goal.” When you “add detail to the employee development plan or blueprint,” you better the odds for “a favourable return-on-investment for all involved.”

Focus on useful feedback.

All too often, employees regard feedback from their managers in a negative light. This may be because the only feedback they ever receive concerns what they’ve done wrong. (And, at times, it may not be feedback so much as a tersely worded reprimand.)

Like all the rest of us, employees respond more favourably to constructive and useful feedback. Better yet, input from managers that includes practical guidance (i.e., where something went wrong, and what to do to avoid similar mistakes in the future) is often warmly received.

Employees crave a sense of understanding that they are doing the work they were hired to do and doing it correctly. Where they fall short, it’s best to provide feedback that leads the way to a reduction in errors and issues related to their job responsibilities.

Be mindful of your interactions with employees.

Sometimes, without meaning to, managers and other leaders discourage cultivation of employee talent by the nature of their interactions. Employees may feel intimidated or disrespected—situations where they’re less likely to approach their boss with new ideas or requests to develop their professional skill-sets.

“Your tone, nonverbal communication, and choice of words have a great impact on how your employees feel,” notes Recognation. Understand that “your willingness to ask their opinion, listen openly, bring them in on organisational changes that affect them, and trust them with meaningful assignments” all demonstrate your faith in their potential.

Invite employees to learn more about what their co-workers do.

Even in an “open” work culture, employees aren’t always aware of the jobs their co-workers do. As a way to build skills and greater knowledge of your business, seek opportunities for them to learn more about how other departments operate.

Better yet, set up cross-training projects where employees in one area or department actively collaborate with employees elsewhere—thus broadening both the skills needed to get the job done, and a deeper grasp of how different departments work together to grow the business.

Perhaps most importantly, “walk the walk” of talent cultivation by actively seeking to improve your own leadership skills. Let people know you’re participating in a leadership-building seminar, or—as a great example—joining TAB to become better at what you do. As the training firm Eagle’s Flight notes, “When employees see leaders sharpening their own skills, they are more likely to follow that behaviour” and find opportunities for growth themselves.

Want to learn more about cultivating employee skills and boosting engagement? Sign up for our free TAB Boss Webinar on “Employee Engagement” !