Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies
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Managers may say people are their most important asset, but unless they show that belief in their daily interactions, employees won’t feel important. The employee-manager relationship is key to maintaining a happy and productive work environment and a harmonious, engaged team. To sustain a culture of recognition and engagement in the workplace, managers must keep up with current trends and shifts in the manager’s role:

  • The changing role of today’s manager: Managers have fewer ways to influence employees and shape their behavior (being coercive or authoritarian is no longer an option). To be effective, today’s managers must increasingly be more like a coach, colleague, counselor, and cheerleader. Managers must create a supportive work environment that uses indirect means of influence to obtain desired behaviors and outcomes.

  • The increasing speed of business: The faster-paced work environment minimizes contact between employees and managers. Most managers are so busy focusing on their own work that they have little to no time left over to focus on their people. As employees’ time with their managers shrink, managers have to strive to make the time available as positive and meaningful as possible.

  • The need for greater employee initiative: Employees are increasingly being asked to be self-directing, autonomous, and responsible for their own work, all the while acting in the organization’s best interest. This can be a great thing, as long as you acknowledge and recognize the employees appropriately for their contributions.

  • The need for greater trust and autonomy: Coupled with the ongoing change in almost every workplace, employees need perspective, involvement, and grounding more than ever before — and they need it most from their managers. Look for opportunities to empower employees with important tasks and involve them in decisions and information-sharing on a regular basis. And reward them for their contributions.

  • The impact of technology in the workplace: Technology in the workplace has increased employee productivity, but in many instances, it has also caused worker alienation as more time is spent with technology and less time is spent interacting with their managers. Managers need to go out of their way to add a human touch to emails, texts, and other online communication; they also need to supplement the face time whenever possible — even if that’s meeting for an informal cup of coffee!

  • The increasing employee need for meaning and purpose in their jobs: Demographics indicate that the youngest generation of employees will increasingly demand work environments that they find personally meaningful. Fewer workers will be available in the post-baby boom wake, and those who are available will likely have fewer, more-specialized skills than previous generations, compounding the management challenge for motivating this generation of employees. Managers should take time to get to know their employees, find ways to connect employees’ personal values to company values, and look for activities and opportunities that make employees feel purposeful.

  • The need for low cost motivational options: Recognition and praise are effective low-cost means for shaping and obtaining desired performance. Recognition and praise work to better motivate individuals and produce desired results. Most studies indicate that, although financial compensation is important, most employees prefer the intangibles of recognition and praise over money, so managers should remember that they can’t solve all problems by throwing money at them. Employees want to feel appreciated — and appreciation doesn’t have to cost a lot.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Dr. Bob Nelson is considered one of the world's leading experts on employee engagement, recognition, and rewards. He is president of Nelson Motivation, Inc., a management training and consulting company that helps organizations improve their administration practices, programs, and systems.

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