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 promise.

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 each other, 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 more than 40 years of experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions, Mr. Roth is responsible for the strategic direction and business performance of Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. operations. In addition, he leads the global marketing services and R&D solutions group, which is responsible for the research and development of all solutions and position papers. Mr. Roth assists global executive leadership teams with issues related to employee engagement, leadership development, strategy alignment, and business transformation. Before assuming his current role, he was President of the global R&D and solution development groups and also served as President of Wilson Learning Corporation.

Mr. Roth has extensive experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions. He is coauthor of the book Unplugged: How Organizations Lose Their Energy and How to Get It Back, coauthor of the book Creating the High-Performance Team, and is published in numerous business publications. Mr. Roth is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and client events, presenting on a wide variety of issues including leadership, employee engagement, change, and strategy implementation.