Four Steps to Engaged Employees
Service is driven by leadership, says business consultant Mike Donnelly. And if leaders get stale in their day-to-day communication and engagement around leadership, that lack of creativity in engaging their teams becomes a true detriment. Instead, your team needs to have an emotional connection with its work.
“When people are telling a story, they connect emotionally with their employees and customers,” he says. “We know that emotional connections lead to positive economic outcomes. If we connect emotionally in a positive manner, it feels good and you want to repeat it. If you have a negative emotional experience, there’s negative economic consequences.”
This is especially important, he say, because millennials and younger generations crave that deeper “why” behind what they’re doing. Millennials are more interested in the emotional connection that comes along with their work, so creating engaged employees is reliant upon this concept today.
“A common mistake is looking forward into the next quarter or the next year, the next set of numbers that come out,” Donnelly says. “We ask our leaders to pause and think back to the heritage of the organization: how it got started, why it got started, how old it is, how it got into business … Once you get the story wrapped around where you came from, it’s easier to understand where you’re going. “
The four phases of creating effectively engaged employees are as follows:
1) It starts with responsible, engaged and inspired leaders. Whether it’s a small parts department or a behemoth operation, employees are drawn to those types of leaders, who are focused on growing employees and team members. They serve as a magnet to bring solid employees to the department, Donnelly says, which builds the team.
2) Those engaged and inspired employees work happily and consistently delight customers. When team members genuinely enjoy their work, they are more likely to have positive interactions with clients.
3) Those happy clients then remain loyal to the dealership. Most customers do not expect to have a positive experience at a dealership, so when they do, they are delighted to have a good time and connect emotionally, Donnelly says. And that emotional connection is, again, the reason that customers come back again and again.
4) That loyalty drives and improves business results. A common mistake, Donnelly says, is starting on the third and fourth steps of this process. However, he notes that in reality, if you have great leadership and great people management, then the other boxes will take care of themselves.
“You have to have generational emotional connection with the dealership,” he says. “In most cases, it’s low cost, or no-cost, ways to surprise and delight people. A lot of leaders think it has to be a multi-million dollar process. It doesn’t have to be. It’s really about making people feel special. It’s about making people have a positive emotional connection to their dealership. If those three are good, then there’s a high likelihood that they intend to return and intend to refer.”