How to Cultivate Engaged Employees — 1 of 6 related posts

Churchill was wise!

Harvard Business Review’s September issue is chock full of great articles, but one in particular caught my eye: “How to Cultivate Engaged Employees” by Charalambos Vlachoutsicos.  The author, a former international business person and current adjunct professor in the international MBA program at Athens University of Economics and Business, lays out six basic guidelines for encouraging employees to be engaged and excited about your mission. He believes, and I agree, that the behavior of managers can reinforce or destroy a sense of mutuality between employees and the organization. I’m going to explore each of the six guidelines in this post and the five that will follow.

 Guideline #1: Be modest

This might seem counter-intuitive to anyone who has worked hard to climb a business ladder. After all, hiding your light under the proverbial bush is not the traditional way to shine at work! But as managers we have to find a way to cultivate the light in others, which means standing back a bit so we don’t cast a shadow on employees (if you’ll forgive the tortured metaphor!). As I describe in chapter 57 of my book Building a Winning Business, leaders let the light shine on others!

This isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just make a concentrated effort to give away credit when it is deserved. And always err on the side of giving too much praise versus not enough. I believe it is important to give specific, sincere praise and to put it in writing when possible. Sharing credit will pay you back in spades as people become more energized and excited about their work, realizing that their effort is important and recognized.

Besides giving away credit, modest leaders take the blame and then quickly move on to coming up with solutions. I’m very intentional about pointing out my own past business mistakes, which I believe has helped to create a culture at Intertech in which people are not afraid to fail. Everyone has heard me talk my own mistakes and problems, so they know it’s ok to try something and fail themselves. As my father used to tell me, “If you do nothing, you won’t make any mistakes.