Employee engagement is nothing short of magic. It can double – even triple the impact of your customer success team. Here’s what it is, and how to create engaged employees—the kind who love to come to work and give it their all.
What is Employee Engagement?
Being a CS leader is hard.
The number one thing that can make it easier? Something called “employee engagement”.
So why is employee engagement important?
Think about how you work when you feel respected, empowered, and valued. You kick ass right? That’s employee engagement. You feel motivated and inspired to go the extra mile, because you know it will be appreciated.
Drivers of Employee Engagement
According to Glint – a software that helps companies measure employee engagement – the drivers of it are:
- Meaningful work
- Career growth
- Fulfilling work relationships
That sounds like a lot, right? And it can feel like you can’t influence all of those as a leader, but you’d be surprised what a few simple tweaks can do!
1) Play to their strengths.
It feels good to do what you’re good at!
No one is going to excel at everything. When you give people opportunities to shine, they get excited about their work. And when they’re excited about their work again, they’ll be more motivated and productive. Playing to their strengths is one of the easiest ways of improving employee engagement.
So how do you know what their strengths are? You may have some idea of them already, but the best bet is to:
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?“
Be clear on why you’re asking.
You’re not trying to “catch” them for being bad at something. You’re trying to run the team effectively.
2) Be part of THEIR story
This is not the last job your employee will ever have. You can pretend that’s not the case, or you can make it work for both of you.
In a 1:1, have a conversation about their career. This can be as simple as asking:
Where do you see your career going? What interests you?
Again, be clear about why you are asking!
Explain that it’s so you can help them learn the things they need to along the way. Don’t assume it’s to management… It could be that they’re interested in CS Ops, Enablement, Community, Customer Marketing.. all of these have career advancement opportunities. But if it IS to management, don’t think they’re coming for your job. You may need to add layers of management along the way (team lead etc) or they may “graduate” you.
“But then I’ll lose my best employee!”
You’ll lose them a lot slower this way, and get the full advantage of their skills while they’re with you. When word gets around that you are a boss who advances people’s careers, it makes you a talent magnet!
3) Trust them with projects
Give them strategic projects that play to their strengths, OR those that will help them learn a skill they will need for career advancement. This is a win-win. Less work for you, upskilling for them.
Most managers struggle to delegate. Just because the employee handles it doesn’t mean you lose quality control. Tell them WHY the project exists – what results do you need? By when. What tools might be helpful. And then let them know you are there to answer any questions they couldn’t solve with Google.
If they knock your socks off? Great! Be sure to praise them loudly and publicly. If they miss the mark? Gently guide them back on course. It’s a learning experience. It still saves you a ton of time, and they got a new bullet point for their resume.
4) Be a human.
Humans aren’t perfect. But we all kinda pretend to be at work. And it stresses us out.
Psychological safety is seriously underrated. It has to be safe to make mistakes and admit them without fear of being immediately screamed at, shamed, or fired. So how do you create psychological safety?
You have to be a little vulnerable first. Talk about a time you failed and what you learned from it. If someone asks you a question and you have no idea what the answer is – admit it, then say you’ll find out. Modeling these behaviors lets them know it’s safe to be human.
5) Fiercely protect work/life balance.
No emails/slack after work or on weekends. That goes for you too. You can’t send them an email on Saturday and tell them not to worry about it until Monday. That sends mixed signals. Whether you like it or not, you all need to unplug to do your best work. You are not paying them to work after hours. (You’re not being paid for that either.) You can’t do your best work when you resent the hell out of your job.
These may seem simple, but they work phenomenally well.
But simple doesn’t mean easy.
The biggest challenge with employee engagement is often letting go and trusting others to get it right. Try one of these tips at a time if it feels more comfortable for you. But be sure to treat ALL your employees the same. Even if you have an employee that’s not pulling their weight, you still have to do all these things. I’ll address tricky employees next week!
PS – Just because you’ve read how to do something doesn’t mean you will do it flawlessly – or do it at all!
If you could use some help getting CS Strategy, Team leadership, or Work/Life balance to work in the real world, drop me a line here.