Creating Highly Engaged Teams Is Easier Than You Think

Why do some managers make leadership look and feel so difficult. And when I say some managers I’m probably referring to way more than we’d like to admit.

How do I know that, well just take a look at the employee engagement statistics for any of the last 20 years and you will see that more than 66 percent of employees are disengaged.

Yep, you read that right, which would mean that around 2/3rds of managers don’t have a clue about creating engaged teams let alone highly engaged teams.

This pisses me off, so much so that this is the umpteenth blog I have written on the topic, and this time I wanted to share with you a simple graphic that shows 7 simple steps which will work every time you use them.

How do I know?

Well, I have used them repeatedly to create highly engaged teams that have improved performance by 50 to 500 percent, it’s why I am in demand for turning around failing projects and underperforming departments.

Here’s the graphic

When you look at these, they are clearly they don’t need an MBA and IQ of 160 plus, or a Masters in Leadership.

Give Clear Direction

I worked with a university and they had 5 departments and each had 5 goals, which is 25 overall. The senior team didn’t know how these goals fitted together, or what the overall strategy was. They had the ingredients but didn’t know what they were making; so didn’t really know where to start. If you don’t know the big picture it’s hard to engage fully or confidently.

I suggested we throw all the goals away and just have one joining and if we did what would it be.

They immediately said in unison, ‘We are n the Top 50 Universities in the Country’.

When they said that the entire energy in the room changed, you could feel an energy and enthusiasm that you only get experience with engaged teams.

Now they knew where they were going. They could now even see how their previous 25 goals could fit together – although a couple would need to be dropped.

Set Aspirational Goals

That University was currently ranked 83, so looking to be Top 50 was a bold goal an aggressive goal. But it was one that they wanted to set for themselves.

It was aspirational, it would give them a sense of achievement. They also would benefit from it, they would be working at higher-ranked university, it would mean they would get better students, and it would also boost their reputations by working at such a university.

This was win win win better for the university, better for the staff and better for the students.

It’s easy to engage with goals that excite and benefit you.

Empower Them

What do I mean be empower them. Well, it’s great for people to be engaged but if they don’t have the resources to be able to achieve the goal then this will quickly lead to them becoming frustrated and disengaged.

People feel empowered when they can see how they will be successful and they have the tools to do it. So check with your teams what they need and then provide it. If you cant then change the goal – you can’t expect miracles, they don’t happen, people can’t turn lead into gold no matter how much you would like them to.

Safe Environment

This is always easy to do – just don’t be an asshole to your staff.

I have worked with too many toxic leaders who would blame people for their failures or shout at them if they made a mistake and just undermine their confidence.

When you do that you just close down any engagement, and people stop to speak up, contribute to their fullest, volunteer for work, and can even stop to support each other.

Give Them Space

No one wants to work for a Micromanager.

You don’t. They don’t. No one does.

Give people the space to surprize you.

That doesn’t mean you forget them. But don’t be checking up every five minutes. And if you don’t check up you’re sending a message that the work doesn’t matter to you, and if it doesn’t matter to you why should it matter to them.

Agree a schedule for review, no more than every 10 percent of the time available; so it’s a 10-week task check no more than once a week.

Clearly, if it’s a complex task and they request it, then it could be more at the start and then ease off.

No one does their best work when someone is sat on their shoulder.

It’s also worth remembering that the reviews remembering that reviews serve 2 purposes, one to provide support and 2 to give them an opportunity for them to show good work and receive praise – so yes give them space but do have some reviews.

Provide Support

One of the biggest misunderstands in leadership is who works for who?

Too many people think that the team works for them, but really that’s not quite true. The team does all the work and they do it under your leadership, but basically, you work for them.

That’s right you work for them. You provide them with the direction, you give them the tools, and you work to remove any roadblocks that they face.

Your job is to put them in. position where they can be successful.

When your teams feel that, and they see that you know it, then it changes the whole dynamic.

Now they know they work for you, but when they feel you are working for them and will provide support when needed not only does it boost engagement but it creates confidence and confidence is critical to people doing their best work.

Give Recognition

There are 2 things you can do to kill the morale of any team stone dead.

1 – Take all the credit for yourself

2 – Don’t give them any credit or recognition for their hard work and efforts.

I have lost count of the poor leader I see that do first, it seems that their own sense of self-worth needs them to feel they are the star and need to bask in the glory of the success and if they share it somehow diminishes them.

Don’t do it. People will never want to work for you again if they have the option.

For the second, this is a real burner, when you fail to recognize your teams, you’re telling them you don’t see them, you don’t value their contribution, and that they are not important. When teams see that then they just go into ‘I don’t know why I bother mode‘ and then stop bothering to do their job, they lose pride and interest in their work.

Recognition costs nothing, but you cannot put a price on it’s value. How much effort does it take to say good job, well done, thank, I appreciate the effort.

Nothing, yet the returns are amazing. When you recognize people it encourages them to do more, we are driven to seek recognition, it builds our feeling of self-worth, both of which are basic human needs.

I know you might be thinking can it really be this easy, but the answer is yes, yes it can.

I have done it repeatedly, and the more I do it the better I get at it and the quicker I help to build highly engaged teams that deliver amazing results.

So why not give it a try what do you have to lose?

And if you need help email me at and let’s arrange a time to talk.