The employer and employee dynamic is a relationship, much like a marriage where two parties must work together as a team. These relationships tend to work out when both parties believe they are getting the better end of the deal.

In these instances, both the employer and employee believe they are lucky to be in a relationship--even a professional workplace relationship--where they both look out for one another and mutually benefit, through either a paycheck and company benefits or meeting deadlines and exceeding production expectations. This is that beautiful moment, that apex, where everybody wins.

Like marriages, the workplace relationship can be a tumultuous one with ups and downs, but, through it all, both parties remain committed partners in reaching a larger yet focused goal with a company. Any relationship, whether at work, as a spouse, or as a friend, requires commitment, sacrifice, and times of give-and-take. It’s not always the pretty picture they paint in the movies.

But sometimes it is, and for that moment we smile and do a little dance to celebrate the great feeling of working together. Those are the moments at work that really keep me going, even when things might be a little rocky with my team.

Companies and business leaders are under extreme pressure to produce results on the strategic level, just as employees are on the tactical. Unfortunately, the stress of producing results in the face of politics, competition, and economics seeps into workplace relationships, and through either to turnover or disengagement, we lose that special spark we feel and happy dance we do when working for a great leader or amazing company.

Take note, leaders: all hope is not lost. The secret to maintaining an engaged workforce isn’t extremely complex or overwhelming. It just involves a commitment between you and your employee. More importantly, it is really worth your time and effort to focus on the relationships and employee population you have in front of you now, instead of chasing purple unicorns and pink squirrels who have not yet been hired.

Create Red Rubber Ball Moments at Work

I call the times when I quietly close my office door and dance out of pure excitement because I love working for my company “red rubber ball moments.” Managers have to take the initiative and sit down with their employees individually, listen, and get to know them by developing a personal relationship that shows the boss is really vested in their future success. The key for a red rubber ball moment is by engaging through play. These moments are fun, meaningful, and from the heart. We all deserve to have fun and be happy at work.

Listening and Focusing on Each Individual Employee of Your Team

Now, I understand what it’s like to manage a team of 150. There are only so many hours in a day. However, the key to creating an engaging workplace is through focused and targeted individual meetings, as well as conversations and actions that really resonate with each individual member of your team. Be deliberate with the scheduling of your time and interactions to maximize your own productivity. Make them feel special, keep your promises and remember the little things. I recommend scheduling twice monthly 1-on-1’s with members of your team and keeping detailed notes.

I keep a notebook and journal where I detail our conversations, my action items, and important points I want to remember. Later I follow up and really personalize my messaging and conversations with each employee based on those interactions. I refer to these notes in all of our future interactions and meetings. A deliberate act of following through and creating personalized conversations goes a very, very long way.

Re-recruit at Every Opportunity

Along with creating personalized conversations and engagements, it’s important to remember that recruiters and companies are constantly working to steal your top talent away. This means employing a re-recruitment strategy where your recruiting, HR, or communications team works to create internal campaigns with the goal of marketing to and engaging your already established employees. Simple things like focus groups are a good start. I recommend going to extreme efforts to understand what employees want and building re-recruitment strategies with the goal of lowering employee turnover, increasing employee satisfaction, and productivity of your team.

The good news is that no matter how tenured an employee population you have, you can make a difference with your team by establishing lines of communication, building bridges, creating those dancing-in-the-office moments that keep employees rocking at your workplace.

06 June 2014

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