How can training assist in developing employee engagement?

By liamarus, 30 October, 2013

The last two to three decades have seen tectonic shifts in the world of work. Utterly dead is the concept of a faceless and mechanised workforce who follows processes blindly. It has been replaced by the idea of motivated individuals whose capacity for creative problem-solving and meaningful contribution positions them as potential partners for future growth. The question is how to empower existing employees to greater and greater contributions, efficiencies and innovations? The Human Resource Practice provides some insights.

Fully engaged employees are more fulfilled and have a deeper emotional connection to their work, colleagues and company. All this translates into a highly productive workforce and positively impacts growth and the bottom line.  

As employee engagement is inextricably linked to corporate culture, the challenge is achieving this in a large company with a long history and a well-established culture and management hierarchy. 

This is exactly what one of our clients was battling with…

Following the results of an internal climate survey, it was found that:

  • The company’s managers rated very low on:

- Communication, 
- Managing performance, and 
- Engaging people,

  • There was a culture of disciplining rather than collaboration in the company.

This needed to change. 

We were commissioned to facilitate an intervention that would foster the development of managers’ emotional intelligence (EI) and thereby change the way they understand, manage and lead their staff.

What were the client’s objectives?

Our client’s objective was to create a strong team environment with a culture of trust, where employees felt encouraged and empowered to be part of their evolving organisation. 

With that goal in mind, we designed and developed The Engaging Leaders Programme as a comprehensive programme that would build managers’ EI and their engagement with their staff. 

The programme consisted of four study blocks, each one building on the last and focusing on a major developmental area:

  • Engaged Mindset: This aimed to deepen managers’ understanding of work’s emotional aspects and how functional leaders become engaged, energised and are able to motivate others using EI.
  • Engaged Relationships: This block concentrated on the connection between managers and their colleagues, and emphasised the importance of the win-win relationships that create full engagement.
  • Engaged Leadership: This challenged the myth that leadership and management are one and the same. The study block shaped thinking around leadership, managing performance, planning, developing trust and celebrating success.
  • Engaged Organisation: This block dug deep into organisational-centred innovative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, negotiation, insight and understanding of financial and risk management.

How did you carry the programme out?

The programme was intensive and rolled out over an eight-month period from June 2012 to early February 2013: 

  • Developmental assessments were carried out before and after the programme to track progress and behaviour change.
  • Managers were required to complete assignments before attending each of the two-day study sessions.

The programme was designed to be as comprehensive as possible, with a multi-faceted approach to learning and teaching being achieved through a diverse toolset:

The programme information session was held at the outset of the intervention. It oriented and informed delegates and their line managers about the high-level outcomes and importance of the process they were about to undertake.

We created an online learning platform and hosted leadership resources in the form of support guides, articles and videos. The platform allowed managers to ask and answer questions and share their insights with their fellow learners in a closed, ‘invite-only’ online environment.

Pre- and post-developmental assessments assessed existing leadership competencies against those covered in the intervention. This helped to capitalise on existing leadership strengths within the group, and provided yardsticks against which to measure progress.

Assessments took the form of:

  • Self-assessments,
  • Peer review, and
  • Feedback from line managers and direct reports.

We produced comprehensive feedback reports that focused coaching on key developmental areas.

  • One-on-one coaching sessions facilitated direct skills and knowledge-transfer from coaches to managers in five one-hour meetings throughout the programme.
  • Pre-session work maximised each manager’s engagement in the learning process and optimised face-to-face sessions. This work also formed part of the integrated assessment process.
  • Contact study block sessions facilitated and encouraged managers to participate, engage and practically apply the new skillsets they had acquired so improving their leadership skills and confidence.
  • Managers compiled and completed integrated individual assignments out of their experiences and learning through the intervention.

What was the outcome?

The intervention was largely successful, with 61% of managers completing and passing the course to date. Of those: 

  • 100% has improved on their self-evaluation,
  • 82% has received significantly higher ratings from their line managers,
  • 91% show significant improvements in their total average scores in the post-programme developmental assessments, and
  • A small percentage of the managers who started the programme are still in the process of completing it.

The intervention has had a marked effect on managers’ leadership skills and their positive engagement with their colleagues, with colloquial evidence and peer assessments all positive to glowing:

  • ‘She has grown in self-confidence and is more assertive in the workplace. She has grown and developed as an operations manager and communication has improved.’
  • ‘Yes, there is a huge progress in dealing with sensitive matters. More accommodative in the event of contrasting views. Keen to listen and seek counsel where she feels limited.’
  • ‘Definitely more engaging and sincere. More supportive and open to new ideas.’

The biggest outcome of the intervention seems to have been the shift to managers having more positive attitudes toward themselves, others and their work. Any impact on the internal climate survey is yet to be measured.

This article first appeared on HR Pulse.



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