Why Give a Damn:

If you don’t understand an employee’s personal motivations, then you’re probably not engaging them in a way that brings maximum value to either party.

The author of this post, Wendy Lea, is CEO of Get Satisfaction, a leading customer engagement platform. Wendy serves as an angel investor, strategic advisor, and board member for a long list of startup companies. She has been recognized as a Top 100 Woman of Influence in Silicon Valley.

This is the second blog in a three-part series by Wendy on employee engagement. Click here to read the first post.

Over the course of my career, the concept of “employee engagement” has changed – a lot. Looking back, the hiring profession was all about finding an individual whose experience was aligned as closely as possible to the skill requirements of the job – plain and simple. All the cards were in the hiring company’s hand, and it was up to prospective employees to prove they had what it takes to contribute to a business’ success.

The hiring holy trinity = engagement, loyalty and retention

In contrast, people today consider their own actualization and individualization vis-à-vis work. A job is an extension – and expression – of who they are as an individual. As a result, the main approach to filling a job opening is no longer limited to skill sets; it’s about personal motivation, relationship skills, and the connections that person brings to the table.

Finding a “Match Made in Heaven”

I believe that social is the primary enabler for this major shift. We all create publicly accessible profiles that showcase who we are, what our interests are, and who we know – in addition to the job skills we’ve developed.

A job is an extension – and expression – of who you are as an individual

As a consequence, the new focus is on relationships. More specifically, it’s all about finding commonalities that create the right chemistry and fit between employer and employee. Much like online dating profiles, we’re looking for a “match made in heaven” that better serves both parties’ needs. At the very root of this shift is one golden kernel of a concept:

If you don’t understand an employee’s personal motivations, then you’re probably not engaging them in a way that brings maximum value to either party.

Understanding them – and making sure they understand you – is the most effective way to achieve the hiring holy trinity: engagement, loyalty and retention (not to mentioned that they will share their excitement about the company and its culture with others).

Wooing Your Hires with Collaboration

Ultimately, it’s about the language you use to effectively convey that you’re a company who wants to develop collaborative relationships with employees. At the risk of sounding like I’m giving “dating” advice, I’ll share a communication tip to use with prospective employees:

Focus on creating an emotional connection

Back in the day, we’d woo hires with a rather formulaic proposal, something that sounded much like: “I’m giving you A so that I can get B.” For example: “I’m giving you salary X, flex time, Y number of vacation days, so that I can get skill sets A, B, & C from you.” This approach is outdated, primarily because it turns the company-employee relationship into something transactional and limited. Instead, focus on creating an emotional connection (ie. alignment with the companies’ mission/vision) and co-create an understanding of how the employee can support the company and the company can support the employee.

Lead with an “all boats rise together” conversation, where it’s understood that everyone is investing together for maximum and mutual success. This fundamentally different mindset makes a world of difference in terms of buy in – and as a result, long-term employee engagement.

What language or tactics have you used to foster a culture of engagement with new hires?

Wendy Lea

Author Wendy Lea

Wendy is the CEO of Centrifuse and Chair of the Board for Get Satisfaction. She has over three decades of experience helping companies drive predictable growth through trusted relationships with customers and partners.

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