The annual NHS Staff Survey states that only 36 per cent of NHS staff said that communication between senior managers and staff is effective.
The findings suggest the health service has more work to do around listening and staff engagement. However, as an L&D professional, I find that this is definitely not unique to the NHS, in fact it is a common issue across all sectors.
So, why is it that managers have so much difficulty in listening to their staff and engaging with them? Is it because they can’t be bothered or are they too bogged down in the tasks of their own jobs to see the benefits?
Here are my 6 top tips for managers wanting better engagement and communication:
- Make employee engagement a key part of your job role Too many managers see employee engagement as something they do when they can fit it in with their ‘day job’. It should be a fundamental part of a manager’s job role. Make sure you have a performance objective agreed with your own line manager about employee engagement so you can be measured on it.
- Develop an engagement plan Treat all of your employees as individuals – there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Each person is different and has different needs. Take time to speak to them and find out what motivates and engages them so you can identify how you can provide that. Make this a regular occurrence, not a one-time conversation, and make time to review if it still applies.
- Develop a communication plan Create a culture of communication with your team and the individuals within it. Plan how often you will communicate with them and what tools and techniques you will use. Planning in time for listening is vital. At least 50% of your communication plan should involve listening to your employees. Plan for regular, meaningful feedback sessions – these shouldn’t just be part of the performance management system.
- Help them love the work they do Make sure you continuously try to find ways to keep their work stimulating and interesting, yet challenging. Remember it will differ from person to person. Help them see that their work is worthwhile and how it contributes to the whole organisation. Even if their efforts are in vain, take time to thank them for their contribution.
- Involve them in making decisions Seek out opportunities to include employees in decision-making - they will feel more empowered if they are included in making decisions that affect their job.
- Inspire them to be the best they can be Show you care about their well-being and treat them with fairness, respect and dignity. Regularly review their needs in terms of knowledge, skills and behaviour and invest in their continuous improvement. Help your employees feel that they can voice their opinions, that these count and that they can strive to do their best for their colleagues and customers.
These 6 ‘habits’, which aren’t time consuming, will make a big difference for everyone – keep practising!
Diane McMahon, Client Services Manager
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my experiences, lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
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