In most organisations, employee engagement is often considered the exclusive purview of HR teams with senior leadership taking a back seat. Leadership tends to be focused on setting the vision of the company, plotting its growth strategy, and ensuring that there is enough cash flow to realise these goals. Too often, their interactions with employees are limited to key staffers. They have very little to do with employees down the line, barring a special appearance at the annual employee engagement do.
This approach, in my opinion, is myopic thinking that does not consider the possibilities offered by informal interactions between senior leadership and employees. For one thing, these interactions are a great way to seek first-hand feedback from employees that CEOs or the leadership team, in general, would otherwise have no opportunity to interact with.
As an organisation, Fabtech places a lot of emphasis on interactions between our leadership and employees. Our Founder, Aasif Khan, engages with Life Engineers from various departments and organisational levels through a series of initiatives designed to give them facetime with him.
Here are some of the key benefits from the perspective of our people that we have seen in executing this strategy
They have clarity of purpose
Our senior managers work to ensure that every employee irrespective of their role has the same clarity and alignment with our purpose and vision. This allows our people to see the big picture and work towards it with belief and enthusiasm. They communicate better within their teams and other departments, make thoughtful decisions and are more productive. This comes primarily from the awareness that everyone is working towards a shared goal and the importance of the part they individually and collectively play.
They have a voice
For any employee, nothing beats knowing they are being listened to, not just by their managers but by the highest levels of leadership in their organisation. Even occasional, informal chats between MD and groups of employees has many benefits. Employees feel confident to share ideas and views that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to. They feel connected and appreciated knowing their suggestions and opinions are being listened to. From an organisational perspective, for senior leadership, these direct interactions are an excellent opportunity to gauge the vibe of the workforce – what they know and believe, think and feel about the company.
Leadership feels connected
In most organisations, leadership invests very little or no time with employees at the lowest level and decisions are made after seeking the opinions of senior managers only. By actively listening and genuinely paying attention to all levels of employees, CEOs can stay current with the vibe of the organisation rather than rely on filtered snippets that aren’t necessarily representative of the organisation as a whole. Admittedly this is easier with fewer employees but not impossible to accomplish with the will and cooperation of senior management. CEOs are better able to make viable decisions armed with data from all levels of the company, not just the top.
At Fabtech, we have several initiatives designed to get our Life Engineers facetime with our Managing Director as well as other senior leadership, including a birthday meeting with leadership and informal coffee and one-on-one sessions with the MD. We host an informal chat for all-new Life Engineers, once they complete 3 months, so they can share their experiences and thoughts with our MD. We also have a ‘Thank You day’ every quarter where Life Engineers at all levels thank other Life Engineers that have made a difference to their work or lives.
Several global studies attest to the extent of impact that senior management engagement has on employee morale and motivation. Employees are likely to be nine times more committed than if they did not experience any senior management engagement. Consider this again. NINE times more likely to stay committed. This is huge. MDs and other senior leadership play an invaluable role in influencing commitment and trust. There are several documented benefits to an engaged workforce, including elevated business performance, reduced attrition, increased efficiency. Employees are that much more likely to go all out for the company when they know their leaders genuinely care about them.
Employee engagement is the cornerstone of a great organisation. And when senior management understands, responds and adapts to the employee environment, it can be the catapult that propels an organisation from good to great.
How do you engage your people? Tell us in the comments.