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7 Levers of Sustainable Performance: Employee Engagement (Part 2 of 3)

7 Levers of Sustainable Performance-Employee Engagement-Part 2


In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the first two levers that will help you attain exceptional employee performance. In this post, we’ll explore the next four levers.

It’s a safe bet that every leader wants satisfied, engaged, and committed employees. What separates great leaders from the pack is insight and intentionality. 

As you begin to understand employee perceptions and apply continued diligence toward using your levers of influence, you can encourage a culture marked by contagious energy and loyalty. People working in this type of environment are more likely to be inspired to go above and beyond expectations, propelling your organization to new levels of success.

In the engagement stage, the second crucial part of the three-step plan to achieve exceptional performance, there are four additional levers of influence. Implementing the goals and best practices provided in this post can make a huge impact on employee engagement.


As you look to influence engagement, think about inclusion, recognition, job design, interactions, resources, and empowerment. Here are some insights for each.


GOAL: Employees need to believe that they are included, respected, appreciated, and recognized.

  • Maintain an active internal communication platform. Healthy internal communication is helpful for improving collaboration efforts, productivity, morale, and more in the workplace. 

    While water cooler conversations are a great way for employees to connect, another opportunity to improve internal communications is through online collaboration platforms. They provide a convenient platform on which company updates and event reminders can be shared, staff can be notified of emergencies, schedules can be coordinated, and feedback solicited—and that just scratches the surface.

    Another way to encourage internal communication among team members is to create a private online social group—a place where casual conversation can live and appropriate personal information can be shared.  

  • Offer inclusive recruitment and selection processes. Before reaching out to the masses by posting a position on an online job board, consider who might be qualified for the position within your organization. 

    Also, as you consider internal candidates, don’t miss opportunities to advance top talent due to biases. It’s always a best practice to ask yourself, “What can we do to ensure we’re offering an inclusive recruitment experience to all candidates, internal and external?”

  • Invest in change management planning and communication. Managing the “people side” of change is often the most challenging and critical component of an organizational transformation.

    The technical side of the change is complex and challenging—it could be working through the financial aspect, integrating a new business system, or deciding on a building or office layout, etc. However, bringing employees on board and getting them to participate in the change can sometimes be harder—this is the people side of change. 

    Learning the what, why, and how of engaging people in the decisions that affect them is the essence of change management. What's the point of technical changes like creating new work processes or implementing new technologies if you leave the people behind. 
  • Establish and observe an inclusive and respectful cadence at team meetings. When people participate in a dialogue, their relationship to the issue deepens which often leads to greater understanding, and ultimately, closer alignment. 

    When employees are invited to speak out, it often provides them with an opportunity to share their views and contribute in a meaningful way which validates their feeling of value in the organization. 

    And when good conversation occurs, it’s a back-and-forth experience. It’s not dominated by a few—it’s inclusive and inviting to everyone.

  • Facilitate dialog about business performance at every level. Everyone has the privilege and responsibility of coaching other team members—it's not meant to be the responsibility of a single person or limited to management. Coaching is not merely telling someone what to do or how to do it better. It’s about giving and receiving feedback that’s beneficial for growth and development.

    The key to positive and sustainable personal and professional development is creating a reciprocal process—that is, each team member has the potential to offer relevant and effective coaching. Leaders who understand this concept can model the behavior for others to learn and apply.

    Coaching and feedback go hand-in-hand, and when done correctly, they not only impact individuals and groups, they can positively impact the organization as a whole.

  • Create a mechanism for open and direct communication with senior executives. Make open communication part of the company culture. It should be clear to all employees from the beginning that open communication—at every level—is not only welcomed but expected. Employees’ willingness to be open and vulnerable is often a direct reflection of management's willingness to do the same.

    Also, develop an efficient and effective method for collaboration and communication. It could be a software tool, coordinated meetings, or protocol for electronic communication. Whatever it is, stick to it, and let it be known that participation is strongly encouraged and positively reinforced. 

GOAL: Employees need to perceive that their jobs offer sufficient responsibility, challenge, and variety in order to support corporate strategy and understand their role in achieving it. A well-designed workflow supports their ability to contribute meaningful results.

  • Outline clear job roles and responsibilities. Job descriptions should clearly identify and describe the responsibilities of specific jobs. They should also include information about working conditions, tools, knowledge, skills needed, and to whom the role is accountable.

    If employees are unclear about the job they are starting, or once in the position, unsure whether or not they’re meeting expectations, the problem may stem from a lack of clarity or other issues within management. 

    In order for an employee to feel like they’re contributing meaningfully, they need to understand what they’re supposed to be doing and the performance level expected from them.

  • Offer well-defined opportunities for advancement. When growth opportunities are available, employees tend to take advantage of them and, as a result, often become more engaged in their work.

    And just like the job description, opportunities for advancement and growth should be spelled out clearly and well-defined so that employees and management are set up for success."

  • Communicate the impact of individual roles/work within the big picture. How can employees be fully engaged and productive if they don't fully understand how their job impacts the company? The short answer is: most can't. While some employees can work productively without knowing the "bigger picture," for many such a disconnect is far from ideal.

    When individuals understand how their role affects the big picture—the company’s purpose and mission—and how their job impacts the company’s success, their drive to engage drastically increases. 

    Discussions about the business—performance, goals, profitability, and how an individual's role connects and contributes to all of that—should be an intentional part of regular manager-employee conversations.

  • Encourage employee participation in work design. The Ivey Business Journal suggests that “high-involvement work practices can develop the positive beliefs and attitudes associated with employee engagement,” and that these practices “can generate discretionary behaviors that lead to enhanced performance.” 

    Simply put: encourage employees to participate in workplace processes—when they do, they’ll likely become more engaged and experience greater satisfaction.

  • Include employees in the redesign of policies and procedures that affect infrastructure. Policies and procedures directly affect employees. Just like with work design, when it comes time to update or refresh policies or procedures for the benefit of the company and its employees, be sure to include them these infrastructure redesigns. 
GOAL: Employees need to feel their supervisor is caring, supportive, and willing to help them find ways to: demonstrate personal competence, have a voice, pursue professional development, and address work/life balance.

  • Collaborate on personal development plans. Management and employees should collaborate to develop well-thought-out, individualized plans that provide employees with opportunities and clear direction on how to increase their skills and advance their careers. With both parties weighing in and having an investment in the plan, everyone wins.

  • Reward and encourage personal growth. One important thing you can do to nurture and retain employees is to provide them with personal development opportunities. This can encompass anything from leadership training to building a new skill to simply pursuing a passion that inspires an employee in the workplace.

    But personal development is not one-size-fits-all. In the Forbes article, 13 Ways To Regularly Support Your Employees' Personal Development, members of Forbes Coaches Council share 13 ways managers can show support for their employees' personal development initiatives, while still giving them the autonomy they need to grow in their own way.

  • Recognize and address work-life balance issues. For many people, the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance seems impossible. With so many employees juggling heavy workloads, relationships, family responsibilities, and personal interests, it's no surprise that more than one in four Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” 

    Management and employees can work together to restore a healthy balance and to create a plan for work-life management—both of which will directly and positively impact work performance. Mental Health America explores some practical steps.

  • Make sure supervisors provide regular feedback and coaching. Employees need to feel their supervisor is caring, supportive, and willing to help them. Supervisors providing regular coaching and feedback goes a long way in addressing these needs. 

    Giving helpful feedback enhances the effectiveness of individuals and the team as a whole. Browse these feedback do's and don'ts and take note of five helpful steps for giving effective feedback.

For more Employee & Supervisor Interaction best practices, download our 7 Levers of Influence for Leaders PDF.

GOAL: Employees need to feel that they have the resources, equipment, support, and authority to do their job well—and the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their work.

  • Provide teams with increased responsibility for quality, budget, and delivery. Show that you trust your team members by giving them more responsibility as their competence and abilities grow. Giving employees latitude by delegating authority and decision making can help them feel empowered.

  • Set a standard of continuous improvement for performance. Create a culture that embraces continuous improvement. Making ongoing improvement in performance, commitment, strategy, and process all help to build up the company's bottom line, and it gives a sense of value and a feeling of genuine contribution to employees.

  • Provide easy access to relevant technical and personal skills training. Whether or not it's required to acquire professional development credits every year, making sure employees have the opportunity to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry is essential. 

    Employees should have access to professional journals or trade press, the ability to attend industry events, conferences, workshops, or conduct research. The rise of webinars, e-newsletters, and online forums means it’s easier than ever to participate in learning from an office desk or at home.

    In addition to this, staying on top of software training is also necessary as program upgrades happen frequently. Not only having access to tools—but also having the knowledge to use them efficiently—is key.

  • Encourage teams/individuals to hold each other accountable for high performance. Employees need to feel that they have support to do their job well—and teams encouraged to hold each other accountable for high performance often experience that. 

    Accountability and teamwork are about expanding focus from self to team. When teams work together and hold each other accountable to high standards, it greatly impacts the organization’s goals, and everyone is more likely to be successful.

For more Resource & Empowerment best practices, download our 7 Levers of Influence for Leaders PDF


While continuing to work on the six levers that we’ve discussed up to this point, you’ll want to gear up for the next (and last) step ahead—building employee commitment—which utilizes one more critical lever of influence. You’ll get the final key to achieving exceptional performance in our third blog post in this series—you won’t want to miss it!

Download our free best practice guide to discover all 7 levers that influence sustainable performance.

Download PDF Guide Now

Still hungry for info? Check out these transformational insights.

When the way you’re working isn’t working, ORG can help. By fostering collaboration, boosting engagement, aligning goals, and implementing sustainable change, we can increase performance by two to three times your current goal—or more. Ready to work together?

Topics: 7 Levers of Sustainable Performance