Key Leader Behaviors That Drive Employee Engagement

EVENT: DNA Creative Communications’ Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums

WHERE: The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center

WHO WAS THERE: 90+ executive directors, leaders and team members from South Carolina nonprofits

SPEAKER: Patrick Jinks, national leadership coach and president of the Jinks Perspective Group

TOPIC: Leaders Leading Leaders

Engaged employees are the engine that helps drive nonprofits forward in achieving their goals. Eager to cultivate and harness the talent and passion of their teams to propel their organizations’ efforts, more than 90 executive directors, nonprofit leaders and staff members gathered at “Leading with an Exceptional Team,” part of DNA Creative Communications’ annual Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums, on Nov. 17. Keynote speaker Patrick Jinks, national leadership coach and president of the Jinks Perspective Group, traveled to Greenville to share his expertise on developing nonprofit teams.

Jinks is a certified leadership coach, professional speaker, facilitator, planner and trainer with 20 years of experience in organizational leadership. He is past president of the Blue Ridge Institute, a national network of nonprofit and community service executives. He served on the National Professional Council for United Way Worldwide, and chaired a national task force that developed a standardized business performance metric system for the entire United Way network. He is also VP of Talent Development and Chief Strategy Officer for the United Way Association of South Carolina. Currently, Jinks helps nonprofits across the country develop their teams through strategic direction setting and coaching executives and other leaders to elevate their leadership influence.

At “Leading with an Exceptional Team,” Jinks helped nonprofit leaders explore strategies for attracting, motivating and retaining talent within organizations, frameworks for effectively engaging employees, and other critical questions nonprofits should consider to move forward in their leadership journey.

Employee engagement, defined by Jinks, is a measure of the emotional, physical and intellectual commitment an employee demonstrates to their organization and mission. Engagement is not about satisfaction. While job satisfaction is about what employees get, employee engagement is about what they give. Employee engagement ensures organizations retain their top performers and have higher productivity among their employees. According to Jinks, employees with the highest level of commitment perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization, which indicates that engagement is linked to organizational performance and productivity.

Jinks outlined top drivers of engagement, including training and development, connection to purpose, trust in senior leadership, supervisor relationships, empowerment and autonomy, and recognition. In order for organizations to foster an engaging environment for employees and support these top drivers, Jinks defined several key leadership practices nonprofits need to incorporate.

  1. Train them.

Training and development is important to team members. About 65 percent of employees say the quality of training and learning opportunities positively influences their engagement. Jinks suggested that leaders can train and develop their employees through seminars and workshops, conferences, e-learning, peer coaching, on-the-job training, books and journals, team discussions, manager-led sessions, and academic classes.

  1. Be present with them.

To build relationships between supervisors and employees, leaders need to ensure they have a presence in the work environment and that they have frequent and meaningful interactions with their team members. Jinks emphasized the importance of putting people before process before product.

  1. Grow them.

Leaders cannot be threatened by team members’ growth. Common fears from organizations are: “What if they grow and we lose them?” “What if they don’t grow and we keep them?” Jinks pointed out that growth is not necessarily positional, but leaders should always be thinking about continuity and succession.

  1. Delegate to them.

While many see the primary purpose of delegation to be taking something off their plate, Jinks recommended to use delegation as more of a growth lever. Instead of delegating tasks, delegate opportunity and letting others do the things you enjoy.

  1. Coach them.

Jinks stressed that coaching is the best single engagement tool. Different from the traditional role as a boss who directs by “bossing,” coaching includes assessing, challenging and supporting employees. Unlike bossing, coaching is asking instead of telling, empowering over directing, delegating opportunities, not tasks, motivating with self-accountability and not reward or punishment, and mostly, coaching is listening instead of talking.

  1. Do what you say.

Following through on what you say helps build employees’ trust. Jinks’ framework for measuring trust includes character, meaning integrity and intent, and competence, or capabilities, results and track record. High trust among employees will equate to a faster speed and lower cost. Low trust, however, will generate slow speed and high cost. Jinks emphasized that employees should be able to trust that their leadership, supervisors, fellow staff and board members will act with integrity in the best interest of the organization and community, and have the ability and track record needed to play their part in delivering the mission.

  1. Recruit the right people.

Nonprofits may compete with other nonprofits for funds, but nonprofits compete with everyone for talent. Jinks outlined four principles four recruitment: 1) find people smarter than you, 2) recruit strategically and patiently, 3) don’t just fill positions – fill needs, and 4) pay them well.

Publication by: The Greenville Journal

Posted December 10, 2015 in: Blog by Debbie Nelson

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