By Jen Schulte
We know that great managers – those who are naturally talented and engaging, the ones with motivated employees and great results in any situation – consistently keep in contact with their people no matter what the situation. They know them as individuals – what makes them tick, what is affecting them outside the workplace, what stresses them out. They are clear and consistent communicators, even admitting when they don’t know or can’t share something. They offer empathy and empowerment, while expecting a lot and staying honest when performance is not where it should be. These managers know that engagement is not about making people happy; it’s about being clear and fair, making sure everyone feels valued and respected and that it’s understood how they each contribute toward a larger goal.
To share an example – here is a “call to action” we recently published across the organization to remind everyone how important engagement is, particularly during turbulent times…and to ask everyone to connect now, not wait for the results of our upcoming engagement survey (will take place in September).
It is up to each and every associate to turn this goal into reality, by making engagement the way we approach our work every day. Each of us has the opportunity to impact engagement every day, during every conversation.
What can you do right now?
Now is the time to reconnect with our associates, not wait for the survey results to take action. High levels of engagement are within reach even during turbulent times if we focus on the basics and on meaningful conversations between managers and associates.
This is a turbulent time – there are many changes going on within our business as well as economic and other external pressures our associates are facing. Now is the time to talk with each other, reflect back on what has been done to drive associate engagement over the past few months and recognize where we need to refocus. It is important during times like these to recognize engagement as an opportunity to build trust and restore hope in the future.
Key things we can all do:
- Managers, talk with each of your associates individually, find out what is working / not working for them in their work environment and what is most important to them
- Communicate openly, be clear about what we know, and admit what we don’t know
- As associates, take responsibility and share our issues or questions with our managers so we can work on resolution together
- Do you have new associates on your team, or a new manager? Make sure everyone is educated about Associate Engagement, use the available tools.
- As a team, review our action plan – is it still relevant for everyone? Have there been changes in the team’s objectives or within the organization that require a new look at the actions?
- Focus on engagement in every team meeting
- Recommit to following through on action plans from the last survey, or agree on new actions that are most meaningful today
Jen Schulte is the Global Engagement Director for Mars Incorporated. She is responsible for all activities related to associate engagement at Mars, including administration of the employee engagement survey to over 60,000 associates, identifying key engagement strategies, effective communication planning and execution, best practice sharing across the organization, designing and delivering internal training programs and facilitating discussions with senior leadership. Her work has been featured in the Gallup Management Journal.
Jen has been an associate with Mars, Incorporated for 8 years. Prior to her Engagement role, Jen worked in learning & development and as a Finance Manager at Mars. Prior to Mars, Jen spent 10 years in various financial management roles at other organizations including CIGNA, Sprint PCS, and commercial banking.
Jen holds an MBA in Finance from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and a Bachelor’s in Finance from Clarion University in Clarion, PA. She currently resides in Easton PA with husband Kevin and daughters Grace (4 years) and Megan (6 months).