Top 5 Elements Every Leader Needs to Drive Employee Engagement | Leadership Training | Wilson Learning Worldwide

Top five elements every leader needs to drive employee engagement

Re-engagement strategies to re-charge employees

Re-engagement strategies to re-charge employees

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It's a sinking feeling . . . the low battery icon is glowing and you know it's a warning that your mobile device is running out of capacity to deliver on its full performance unless you plug in and re-charge. Stay with me on this analogy for a minute . . . as leaders, we have asked our followers to do more with less. Now, with the economy improving, there seems to be a need for relief—some leadership re-engagement strategies to re-charge employee discretionary energy and create higher engagement.

If the engagement "battery" of our followers is warning that it's running low, the critical question is, "Of all the things leaders could do, what should they focus on to create a culture of engagement that will make the most impact?" I invite you to consider the top five elements that every leader needs to drive employee engagement, along with some hard-hitting questions that can illuminate what leaders in your organisation may or may not be embracing to create a culture of employee engagement.


Engagement happens when employees feel they are part of something important and have something to believe in.

The mental energy that best serves full engagement is realistic optimism—working positively toward a desired outcome or solution. Employees need to believe in the future. They need to see potential for the organisation and believe they can contribute value. Having a "why" to work clearly increases engagement. Consequently, how the organisation tells its story is key to creating a culture of engagement.

Most organisations have already established an organisational vision, mission, strategy, goals, etc. I am not suggesting that you change those to create more of a sense of opportunity. What I am suggesting is that we as leaders can be much more effective in how we talk about our organisation's direction and potential as a way to energise, inspire, and engage our employees. We need to create a story about our future that excites people. The fact is, most organisations put very little effort into doing this.

Focusing Questions for Leaders

How do leaders communicate vision and direction in a way that excites people?

How does that impact the energy of the people in the organisation?


Engagement happens when employees are expected to give their best and know what they are being held accountable for. When this is the case, personal accountability increases.

Employees, more often than not, tend to do what they believe is expected of them. If you want the best from employees, you need to expect the best. However, setting high expectations without accountability often leads to unfulfilled promise.

When employees are clear about what is expected of them from both a performance goals and personal behaviour perspective—and know they will be held accountable—they tend to hold themselves accountable.

Therefore, personal accountability is often a stronger factor in an employee's engagement than the accountability that comes from external sources.

Focusing Question for Leaders

How do leaders communicate clear expectations to eliminate confusion about what is expected?


Engagement happens when employees feel connected with each other, focus on mutual interests, and operate with shared responsibility.

Connectedness means caring about our work, our colleagues, and our place in the world—being connected.

High-performing organisations will often point to their success by talking about their collaborative culture and the impact it has on productivity. There are actually two important aspects to this when it comes to employees' level of engagement.

First is the feeling of working with colleagues who trust and support each other, and demonstrate interest in not only their own success, but in the success of their colleagues. It is difficult to sustain engagement when employees feel disconnected from their peers.

The second is to operate with a mindset of collaboration, the process of integrating different perspectives to accomplish a common outcome. As collaboration at all levels increases, so does connectedness and engagement.

Focusing Question for Leaders

How do leaders ensure individuals are connected across functions and operate with mutual interest?


Engagement happens when employees are well-informed, involved and have an opportunity to openly express thoughts and feelings. Simply stated, people want to feel "in" on things.

Asking people for input or sharing information is one of the most powerful tools a manager has. Problems arise when leaders/managers don't share a lot of information; when they don't talk to their employees and others in the organisation. Including others and asking for and sharing information . . . that is what is needed.

Most leaders would say they have an open door policy. That's great, but it doesn't mean anything.

Don't pride yourself on having an open door policy; pride yourself on how many people come through your door! Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons people don't come through the door has to do with leadership behaviour that erodes trust.

Focusing Question for Leaders

What do leaders do to ensure there is an open and honest flow of information?


Engagement happens when employees feel that they matter—that they have a valued place in the organisation.

Validation is the expressed interest an organisation has in its employees. It comes in a variety of forms: recognition, support, involvement, understanding, rewards, learning, growth, etc.

One of the fastest ways to create disengaged employees is to teach them you don't care about them as people. Validation is arguably the most important element of engagement because it personally influences each individual in the organisation. "Showing interest" is critical to retaining and engaging employees.

Focusing Question for Leaders

What can leaders do to demonstrate they care about their employees?


Culture exists in an organisation in one form or another. The question is, what are your leaders doing to proactively take responsibility for shaping a culture in which employees choose to be engaged? Leaders who focus on creating a culture of engagement have more engaged employees. These five key elements help leaders shape a culture of engagement. What are your leaders doing to re-charge your employees' batteries?

To learn more, contact Wilson Learning Worldwide | Phone: +44.1494.678.121 | Email:

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Tom Roth

Tom Roth

Tom Roth is Chief Operating Officer of Wilson Learning Worldwide and President of Wilson Learning Japan. With more than 40 years of experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions, Mr. Roth is responsible for the strategic direction and business performance of Wilson Learning Worldwide operations. In addition, he leads the global marketing services and R&D solutions group, which is responsible for the research and development of all solutions and position papers. Mr. Roth assists global executive leadership teams with issues related to employee engagement, leadership development, strategy alignment, and business transformation. Before assuming his current role, he was President of the global R&D and solution development groups and also served as President of Wilson Learning Americas.

Mr. Roth has extensive experience developing and implementing human performance improvement solutions. He is coauthor of the book Unplugged: How Organisations Lose Their Energy and How to Get It Back, coauthor of the book Creating the High-Performance Team, and is published in numerous business publications. Mr. Roth is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and client events, presenting on a wide variety of issues including leadership, employee engagement, change, and strategy implementation.

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