Finance News & Insights

Moving employees up the engagement ladder in 5 steps

You don’t have to dole out steep raises and bonus payments to keep your employees engaged. 

It all starts with your managers, says employment law attorney Jathan Janove, who spoke at the recent Labor & Employment law Advanced Practices (LEAP) symposium.

A proven strategy

Here are five steps managers can use to move employees to “engaged.”

Step 1: Tell them why. Contrary to a popular misconception, Gen-Y employees don’t question authority; they just want to know why something needs to be done instead of just being told to do it.

Step 2: Ask more questions. Managers would do well not to lead with their mouths, but with their E-A-Rs: Explore, Acknowledge and Respond. They should ask as many questions as they make statements.

Step 3: From command to collaboration. In a command-and-control system, the boss gives an order and expects to be obeyed. A middle step is delegation, where a boss won’t use his veto power if he can live with what employees have proposed or done.

But the ultimate step is collaboration, in which the boss first consults with employees, then gives credit to good suggestions and acknowledges all input.

Step 4: Show some humility. This creates opportunities for reaching people and not making difficult conversations adversarial. Even when staff must be let go, respect their dignity. People who felt they weren’t treated with dignity in terminations are 35 times more likely to sue.

Step 5: From cop to coach. The journey from compliance cop to compliance coach is in your managers’ best interest. They just may discover that instead of having a bad employee, they actually had a good employee who was being badly managed.

For change to stick, managers must see a clear path, feel motivated by the expected rewards and see a supportive environment.

Info: Janove, 503-552-2149, or

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