In today’s workplace, successful managers and executives are seeking ways to improve employee engagement while meeting company performance goals. Studies show a direct relationship between engagement and success, as well as between communication and morale.

Addressing issues pertaining to engagement, whether through a weekly employee performance review or by attempting to emulate such through your own behavior has some well-established methods and most of the time, proves successful. These strategies can motivate employees, establish open communication, and inspire creativity. At their core, these methods speak to how leadership is leading the way.

The successful execution of a performance enhancement strategy requires that leadership learn and develop their own skills as managers of people. Soft skills define the way people interact with each other, both between co-workers, as well as between leaders and staff. The following five skills are key for any manager or executive to create a positive workplace culture.

1. Inspire Self-Reflection

Asking employees questions about their work and performance can provide important information about successes and struggles. Ask staff for feedback and for their ideas on improving a project or what they understand to be the goals. This can be quite enlightening and will reveal areas that need clarity.

Leaders should be asking themselves these same questions, too. Part of understanding how to achieve a company’s goals involves defining the leadership’s comprehension of such. It’s a question of how they are participating and making things happen in a positive way.

2. Build Trust

Employees that feel they can rely on their supervisors when necessary and receive relevant information about their work and performance have higher morale. The work relationship has to be mutually respectful for employees to feel comfortable relating ideas and expressing concerns without wondering about the repercussion of their comments.

Trust, however, is a two-way street. Leadership cannot expect staff to be open and honest without being willing to do the same. Focusing information-sharing, explaining and inviting participation in decision-making, and honestly assessing feedback inspires staff to respond in kind.

3. Mentor Staff

Managers, executives, and project leaders need to not only recognize performance, but also potential in their staff and teams. Employees who feel they have a future for growth and new opportunities are more engaged with their current work and see themselves as part of the company’s continuing success.

Every professional sports team, for instance, consists of highly skilled players that know their role. They all have coaches, and often praise them for their coaching. Showing an active interest in developing staff skills produces mutual respect and reassures staff that their personal growth and goals have value to the company.

4. Clarify Accountability

Establishing goals and key performance indicators for a team work best when the individual team members understand their roles on the team as well as each other’s responsibilities. Clarity resolves miscommunications and misplaced expectations, motivating a team to work together more productively.

Conflict management is a critical skill for leaders to have. Whenever people work together, different viewpoints, skills, responsibilities, and personalities have an impact on productivity. Leaders must devise strategies that resolve conflicts before they become obstacles to success.

5. Acknowledge Performance

While staff management strategies change and evolve, recognizing an employee’s performance and contributions remains a consistent marker for effective leadership. Understand that while employees view their work through their own lens, they value recognition from leadership.

One of the most transformative strategies for employee engagement in recent years has been treating performance reviews as an ongoing process rather than an annual or semi-annual event. Effective managers work with their staff on a more frequent basis to facilitate improved engagement, address motivation issues, and clarify goals when necessary.


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