5 Ways to Uncover Employee Attitudes and Boost Engagement
Who Is the Employee Behind the Mask?
I’m sure you’ve overheard a coworker on the phone using a pleasant, sugary sweet tone but then mutter a few expletives the moment the call ended. What if you were the person on the other end of the phone? What are your employees’ real attitudes towards you, your company, and their work?
One of the focal points of Halloween is to dress up in costume, which usually includes a mask that can hide the person’s true identity. Most people would agree that it’s one of the few times when a person can “let go” and pretend to be someone different. However, I believe that most people already do this on a daily basis.
The ubiquitous Guy Fawkes mask from "V for Vendetta" illustrates the outward smile that hides the person’s sinister intentions. Do your employees mask their true feelings? Few bad apples are brazen enough to do be outright belligerent and disrespectful to your face. Most will be business-like and seemingly normal in person, but what happens behind your back? When they talk to their coworkers or friends outside of work, what do you think they say?
You can’t be everyone’s best friend and I’m not suggesting that you should suck up to them to win them over. But you should want them to treat you with respect and value the work that they’re doing. If you want your workforce to meet their goals, and even give a little extra through their own discretionary effort, then persistent negative attitudes need to be addressed.
In the best scenario, you want your employees to be genuine in their actions and words. An engaged and content employee isn’t distracted by what they don’t like and can focus on doing the best job possible. Meanwhile, disgruntled employees with gripes against their boss, coworkers, work, or work environment will lose focus on their tasks and redirect their efforts and energy towards complaining.
Executives from insurance company Woodmen of the World describe how they use Profiles Workforce Engagement Survey to motivate and develop their people.
5 Ways to Measure Employee Attitudes
Malcontents with snarky attitudes could poison the minds of their coworkers, thus harming the performance of others. Here are five ways to measure your employees’ attitudes and avoid being misled by employee masks:
1. Pre-hire assessments to identify behavioral issues
This is the best opportunity to scrutinize a potential candidate’s behavioral tendencies before you offer them a job. Probe how they respond to certain situations to gauge how they’ll act on the job. These assessments offer a glimpse of the potential hire beyond the resume and behind the mask worn during an interview.
2. Internal employee attitude surveys
Your employees might put on a good face or be good actors while on the job. Conducting periodic employee attitude surveys gives them an opportunity to vent and provide constructive feedback regarding their true feelings for their work, the work environment, and their colleagues and managers. If you conduct employee surveys, be prepared to receive negative feedback and act on it accordingly. If you choose to ignore it (or retaliate), then it was not only a wasted effort, but would likely sink attitudes further.
3. 360-degree feedback for managers and executives
Many people are reluctant to directly criticize their boss or offer views to the contrary, which leads to an environment of “Yes Men” and executive blind spots. If you’re a manager, try to foster a culture in which your staff knows they can be candid with you. But managers gain the most benefit from 360-degree surveys, which gather feedback from their staff, bosses, colleagues, and maybe even customers or vendors.
4. Building informal networks
How connected are you within your workplace? Informal networks are essential to keeping your finger on the pulse of the workplace. What’s on people’s minds? What’s occupying their attention and concerns? If you only talk to those with whom your work directly, then you’re likely missing out on valuable chatter which reflects the workplace mood and environment. Are you in the know or out of touch?
5. Coaching your employees builds stronger bonds
Coaching not only provides regular feedback between a manager and her employees, but during that process it allows for a deeper relationship to form. If a boss is always cold, distant, and unapproachable, then they’re unlikely taking the time to provide and receive feedback from their staff (which leads to blind spots, negative attitudes from employees, poor performance, etc.). But the act of coaching is in itself a form of communication that can help to tear down barriers and improve attitudes.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rohmads/5487790548/
If you are ready to take action to uncover employee attitudes and boost engagement, we suggest trying our Workforce Engagement Survey - 100% risk free.