Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement

If you’re like most managers, the current recession is forcing you to trim resources wherever possible.

At least in the immediate future, that could mean making some gut-wrenching decisions regarding the status of your human resources. For example, you might have to postpone filling open positions, ask workers to forsake pay raises, or eliminate jobs altogether.

Amid all the uncertainty, perhaps your greatest leadership challenge will be keeping top performers engaged.

As the downturn lingers and staffs get leaner and leaner, the ability to keep your remaining employees engaged could determine how productive your company is during the economic storm. In its 2008/2009 WorkUSA Report, global consulting firm Watson Wyatt found that businesses with highly engaged workers experience 26 percent greater productivity than companies whose employees are less engaged. That’s not surprising when you consider that engaged workers tend to excel in their jobs. Watson Wyatt found that nearly 75 percent of highly engaged employees exceeded expectations in their latest performance review.

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The report — based on a survey of over 13,000 full-time U.S. workers — also indicates that organizations with highly engaged employees have reduced absenteeism and lower turnover. And highly engaged workers are more supportive — and more flexible — to changes in their work environments. These employee traits are critical during frightening economic times like the present.

So how do you get workers engaged?

By communicating openly with them. According to Watson Wyatt, employees want to hear about their organization’s specific plans and progress, especially during difficult times. Workers can’t support your tough decisions unless you convey the rationale behind those choices. And their support is essential to keeping them engaged during economic unrest.

In my experience, employees want managers to be honest with them, even when the news is bad. So if you’re asked to do more with fewer resources, keep the human resources you have engaged by telling them the truth.

Are you opening engaging with your teams as much as you could? If not, what is holding you back? Fear? Uncertainty? Lack of courage? If you are being successful in being open and forthright with your people, what is your secret for success?

Image Source allposters.com

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