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The 10 Half Truths of Employee Engagement

As a leader it’s tempting to believe one or more of the following half-truths. Each of these half-truths relies on the assumption that the people you lead know your intentions. And in the busy life of a leader that is a very tempting assumption. Unfortunately, they are half-truths – so you might have great intentions – your people will judge you by your actions and your engagement with them!


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Half Truth #1: My people understand that I have a very demanding job.

From your own perspective, it may be clear that sometimes, you are too busy to spend time with your team. However, your workload might not be immediately clear to your team, and if they’re looking for more of you than they’re seeing, your team might feel undervalued.

Half Truth #2: My people know that I need them.

Team members who feel valued are more likely to stay with your company, but it can be hard for leaders to meaningfully demonstrate their importance. One way you can accomplish this is by practicing active listening by putting away your phone or laptop and making a point to be fully present.

Half Truth #3: My people know that I care about them.

The way you demonstrate care to your people may not necessarily be the way they understand care. Demonstrating care in a way that’s meaningful to each specific member of your team is a valuable skill to hone, whether that means giving constructive feedback or asking questions about weekend plans.

Half Truth #4: My people know that I appreciate their need to be autonomous. 

As a leader, it can be challenging to delegate tasks and risk a result that falls below expectations. That might mean you’re giving your team less freedom than you think. To mitigate that issue, it can be helpful to bring focused instruction to each task before granting autonomy.

Half Truth #5: My people are clear on my expectations that I have for them.

Consistently expressing your expectations promotes a higher level of engagement within your team, no matter how well your people already understand those standards. What’s more, this type of dialogue nurtures accountability, allowing you to grant your team greater autonomy.

Half Truth #6: My people understand that I give feedback when I can.

As a leader, you may feel like you’re too busy to give feedback. However, feedback is an important tool in demonstrating that you value your people. Leaders can increase engagement in the workplace by thinking of feedback as the norm, not the exception.

Half Truth #7: My people understand that I give coaching when I can.

Coaching your people is an invaluable experience for both yourself and them. However, it can be challenging for leaders to find the time to conduct formal coaching sessions. Instead of allowing coaching to fall by the wayside, it’s important to take advantage of real-time opportunities to coach.

Half Truth #8: My people understand that I make the decisions.

Your people will always expect you to make the final call on any decision. Even so, encouraging members of your team to step up and brainstorm winning ideas means that they will be more fully engaged in working towards the ultimate decision.

Half Truth #9: My people know they can trust me.

One of your most important goals as a leader is to consistently and intentionally increase trust between yourself and your team. Trust is hard to build but easy to break, which means that you can never assume you’re done working towards trust.

Half Truth #10: My people know that I’m here to help them.

From the perspective of your team, there’s a difference between knowing you exist as a resource and watching you actively look for ways to help. That might mean setting your people up for success with clients or putting in a good word when somebody’s up for promotion.

By letting go of these half-truths and instead focusing on intentional communication, leaders can tune in fully to their teams and promote high-level engagement.

For a more in-depth discussion of these half-truths listen to Episode 1 and Episode 2 of this two-part podcast.