Top 5 Elements Every Leader Needs to Drive Employee Engagement

Reengagement Strategies to Recharge Employees

By Tom Roth

It’s a sinking feeling . . . the low battery icon is glowing and you know it’s a warning that your mobile device is running out of capacity to deliver on its full performance unless you plug in and recharge. Stay with me on this analogy for a minute . . . as leaders, we have asked our followers to do more with less. Now, more than ever, there is a need for relief—some leadership reengagement strategies to recharge employee discretionary energy and create higher engagement.

If the engagement “battery” of our followers is warning that it’s running low, the critical question is, “Of all the things leaders could do, what should they focus on to create a culture of engagement that will make the most impact?” I invite you to consider the top five elements that every leader needs to drive employee engagement, along with some hard-hitting questions that can illuminate what leaders in your organization may or may not be embracing to create a culture of employee engagement.

Engagement happens when employees feel they are part of something important and have something to believe in.

Creating a Culture of Engagement Element 1: Opportunity

Engagement happens when employees feel they are part of something important and have something to believe in.

The mental energy that best serves full engagement is realistic optimism—working positively toward a desired outcome or solution. Employees need to believe in the future. They need to see potential for the organization and believe they can contribute value. Having a “why” to work clearly increases engagement. Consequently, how the organization tells its story is key to creating a culture of engagement.

Most organizations have already established an organizational vision, mission, strategy, goals, etc. I am not suggesting that you change those to create more of a sense of opportunity. What I am suggesting is that we as leaders can be much more effective in how we talk about our organization’s direction and potential as a way to energize, inspire, and engage our employees. We need to create a story about our future that excites people. The fact is, most organizations put very little effort into doing this.

Focusing Questions for Leaders

  • How do leaders communicate vision and direction in a way that excites people?
  • How does that impact the energy of the people in the organization?

Creating a Culture of Engagement Element 2: Personal Accountability

Engagement happens when employees are expected to give their best and know what they are being held accountable for. When this is the case, personal accountability increases.

Employees, more often than not, tend to do what they believe is expected of them. If you want the best from employees, you need to expect the best. However, setting high expectations without accountability often leads to unfulfilled promises.

When employees are clear about what is expected of them from both a performance goals and personal behavior perspective—and know they will be held accountable—they tend to hold themselves accountable.

Therefore, personal accountability is often a stronger factor in an employee’s engagement than the accountability that comes from external sources.

Focusing Question for Leaders

  • How do leaders communicate clear expectations to eliminate confusion about what is expected?
Engagement happens when employees feel connected with one another, focus on mutual interests, and operate with shared responsibility.

Tom Roth

“Tom Roth is Chief Operating Officer of Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. (U.S.) and President of Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. (Japan). With over 40 years of experience in developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions, Mr. Roth looks after the strategic direction and business performance of Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. operations. He also leads the global marketing services and R&D solutions groups.

Mr. Roth assists global executive leadership teams with issues related to employee engagement, leadership development, strategy alignment, and business transformation. He is co-author of the books – ‘Unplugged: How Organizations Lose Their Energy and How to Get It Back’ and ‘Creating the High-Performance Team’. He is also a frequent speaker at national conferences and client events.”