5 Ways to Engage Employees Before Performance Problems Arise

Productivity, performance, and standards are key facets of your team’s day-to-day work. But before issues with these develop, what can you do? Are there any preventative measures departmental and company leadership can take? Yes – specifically targeted engagement strategies personalized to individual employees. Foster motivation and engagement before their personal performance standards wane and asses it through regular performance appraisals.

1. Can you hear me now? Good.

Clarity is key when communicating performance goals. A seemingly obvious factor in engagement and performance initiatives, there’s often a very abrupt and plain disconnect between what organizational leadership wants and how their employees understand these standards. Your staff needs to understand how they directly affect profession towards company goals. They can only do this if goals are clear, concise and reflect the organization’s goals and values.

Why is this so important? Employees can’t be engaged or connect to the organization if they don’t understand how their work is tied to the greater picture. In fact, employees who are engaged are 20% more productive than their less-than-engaged counterparts. [1]

To Do: Tie company goals to individual mandates.

2. It’s more than just an annual ordeal.

 Do you remember the to-do list you wrote this time last year? You needed to fix things like the washing machine and the fence out back. If you can’t remember these things, you can’t expect your employees to remember what you told them in their performance appraisal last year. Projects, client meetings and collaborative assignments begin to take precedence over the information they gleaned from the performance appraisal, and over time, they will forget. Art Kohn, CEO of AKLearning, said:

“Your brain needs to forget things that are no longer useful. And this forgetting is inevitable, it is useful, and it is adaptive because it clears your memory for things that are more relevant. The problem, however, is that in the process of all of this memory purging, our brain often forgets important information.” [2]

To Do: Schedule 3 or 6 months reviews today!

3. A positive attitude goes a long way.

Performance reviews assess an employee’s performance (ideally) over the last few months since the last appraisal. Chances are it wasn’t a stream of mistakes and missteps along the way… otherwise they’ll be in for a rude awakening. Address their good work as well, not only for their engagement levels, but to decrease your turnover too. Workers who received positive feedback during their performance appraisal had turnover rates that were 14.9% lower than those who received no feedback. [3]

To Do: Challenge your team to go one month without complaining!

4. It’s all about transparency.

Really, it’s simple – employees want to feel valued. Perhaps not something they can explicitly convey, but engaged employees feel reciprocated passion from their supervisors. It’s not just an internal employee desire; 96% of job seekers feel it’s important to work for a transparent company. [4] Why would they work for someone they can’t trust? Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, Senior Vice President at Global Research, said:

“Having the right engagement practices powered by understanding the drivers most meaningful to employees can work towards creating a more motivated and high-performing workforce. Committing to an intentional culture that’s open, transparent, and enables employees to thrive is important for retaining top performers.” [5]

To Do: Can a meeting be an email? If so, send the message out to the whole team, department or company-wide.

5. Never stop learning.

No system is perfect and organizations consistently change in culture because employees are never stagnant. It’s important to gain the experience necessary to develop a robust engagement program to keep your employees performing at the standards you expect. Motivate and challenge your employees, Ken Wexley and Doug Strouse explain:

“To motivate talented people, you must give them challenging work, recognize and reward them for their outstanding achievements, give them the resources they need to do their jobs, and treat them fairly.” [6]

To Do: Tie yearly or quarterly incentives to self-directed learning.

Fostering a culture of engagement helps to build a foundation of high-performance standards. Give your employees the tools and the feedback necessary to address performance concerns before they become problems. A transparent and positive attitude show employees the value of their work; clear goals and regular appraisals give them the ability to continuously learn. Use these 5 ways to engage employees before performance problems arise within your team and the organization as a whole.

Bio: Chris Arringdale

Chris Arringdale is the Co-Founder and President of Reviewsnap, an onlineperformance appraisal software that allows you to customize performance management, competencies, rating scales and review periods. Reviewsnap serves more than 1,200 customers worldwide including, Penske Racing, CubeSmart, PrimeSource and Nonprofit HR Solutions.


[1] – RecruitingDaily – 3 Cs of Employee Engagement

[2] – Learning Solutions Magazine – Brain Science: The Forgetting Curve – The Dirty Secret of Corporate Training

[3] – Gallup – Why Strengths Matter in Training

[4] – Glassdoor – 50 HR & Recruiting Stats That Make You Think

[5] – Forbes – How the Best Places to Work are Nailing Employee Engagement

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