6 Keys to Engage Employees (Are You Missing Any?)

by Jesse Lahey on September 4, 2012

Whether you are engaging employees, followers, customers, or even your children, you need to be effective at all 6Cs of engagement.

One of the best bosses I ever had was a guy who was pretty good at five of the six Cs. In fact, the one C where he was lacking is the one that most people would guess to be the least important. There are other factors besides a manager’s leadership that affect employee engagement, yet there’s a chance I would still be on his team today if my boss hadn’t neglected one of the Cs.

Often experts write books or make speeches that emphasize one area over another, but I think all six are fairly equal in importance.

  • Context (Why): What is our team’s purpose? Why is the company making this change? Why do I need to do this task? Leaders must communicate the context early and often.
  • Clarity (Vision): Where are we going? What future are we creating together? Is our future as a team? Again, leaders must proactively communicate the vision often, or else clarity doesn’t occur or doesn’t last.
  • Credibility (Trustworthiness): Why should I trust you as a leader? Do you know what you’re talking about? Are you honest and authentic? Do you practice what you preach? Leaders must be sure that their words, bearing, and especially their actions communicate credibility.
  • Caring (Well-Being): Do you care about me as a person? Is my job satisfaction or workplace happiness a priority for you?
  • Connecting (Relationship): Do you and I have anything in common? Do you take the time to interact with me in ways that stimulate me emotionally, socially, recreationally, or intellectually? If we spent a weekend together, would we both enjoy it?
  • Coaching (Career Development): Are you fully supporting me? Are you helping me advance toward my goals? Are you helping me learn, grow, and achieve my full potential?

Notice that the first two Cs may be organizational. Context and Clarity may be dictated by the company CEO, for example, but they still need to be translated for each department and each individual’s role.

Credibility is totally personal – it’s all about both the competence and the integrity of the leader.

The last three Cs are relational. Caring, Connecting, and Coaching are all about the space between the leader and the individual.

By the way, the one C that my boss was most lacking was Coaching. There was no question that he fully supported me. But he didn’t take time to understand my long-term goals and needs, and help me develop in the areas that would have made a difference toward those goals. For example, my team and I were quite successful from a financial perspective, but I could have been a much better leader with some leadership training. Also, I had mastered certain competencies and was becoming bored and burnt out with nothing new to challenge me intellectually, and a good executive coach could have helped me develop new competencies to keep me excited.

When you take the time to know your team members, you can use the 6Cs to better meet their needs.

For an in-depth explanation of the 6 Cs of Engagement, listen to the Engaging Leader podcast episode 002.

For a visual discussion of the 6 Cs of Engagement, watch Jesse’s video tutorial.

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