Kathy Madison, Comtech Services
April 1, 2021

It’s widely known that when employees are satisfied with their jobs, they’re much more likely to be happy, more engaged, and more productive. In other words, they are having fun. But how do we know if our team members are satisfied with their job and what are we doing to keep them motivated and engaged?  Several CIDM members discussed this topic in a recent manager roundtable, and here are some of the best practices shared during the session.

Taking the Pulse

As managers, we have many different ways to determine how our team is feeling, everything from simply asking them in one-on-one sessions to formal corporate-wide or departmental employee surveys. We can also gauge our team’s pulse by watching for degradations in quality, missed deadlines, or whether they are achieving key goals.

If using surveys, it’s important to make the survey anonymous — survey takers need to feel safe to respond with their own answers, not ones they think we want to hear. Use a simple approach of a rating score survey or an open-ended question survey.

Sample scale rating questions:

  • It is easy to get my job done.
  • I am excited about my company’s future.
  • I would recommend my company to my friends.
  • I am encouraged to find better ways to get my job done.
  • I feel empowered to make decisions regarding my work.
  • I am satisfied with the recognition I receive for my work.
  • I do work that is meaningful to me.
  • I feel connected to my coworkers.
  • I have the necessary tools and technology to do my job well.
  • I am given the time necessary to fulfill all my responsibilities.
  • I have opportunities to learn and grow.
  • I am valued for my feedback.
  • I am fairly compensated for the work that I do.

Open-ended questions:

  • How easy is it to get your job done?
  • How could we make it easier to get your job done?
  • What can I or the company do to make your experience better?
  • How satisfied are you with your job?
  • What decisions do you not feel empowered to make?
  • What skills do you want to improve?

Some organizations take an employee satisfaction pulse weekly, others quarterly or annually. Regardless of how often we measure satisfaction, the cadence should be consistent, and results shared with the team.

Motivating the Team

Hands down, the best way to keep a team engaged and motivated is to have good communication channels, set clear expectations of performance goals, and provide the right technology and support to achieve these goals.

Part of our communications might include things that do not directly impact the day-to-day activities of the team but instead influences the team’s general work ethics, some example topics include:

  • Explaining the company’s “big picture” and business goals and how they impact the team.
  • Helping the team get to know the management team.
  • Sharing comments from the customer feedback channel, especially the good comments.
  • Acknowledging the value individuals, and the team, bring to the company and the customer.
  • Establishing an employee of the month/quarter and provide small incentive awards.

Training the Team

Employee development is also an important factor in motivating the team and retaining individuals. We don’t want to be the boss in Scott Adams’ Dilbert comic strip ­— Boss: “Who needs training to keep up with technology trends?” — Employee: “Me” — Boss: “You’re fired. I only want people who already know how to do their jobs.”

Some organizations have a corporate culture that values employee development while others struggle to get the funding or time to make it happen. Either way, here are some ideas we can incorporate into our management practices:

  • Create a skills matrix for each team member to identify gaps and areas of improvement.
  • Develop an onboarding buddy or mentoring program in which senior team members mentor new members.
  • Encourage cross-training by having a primary and secondary team for various product lines.
  • Give “homework assignments” that require research and practice; make it a primary task, so it gets done —require a peer presentation to cross-train the team.
  • Use collaboration tools, like Slack or Teams, to create Help Channels so team members can learn from each other.
  • Provide subscriptions to industry newsletters, such as CIDM’s Best Practices
  • Send team members to industry conferences, such as CIDM’s ConVEx or Best Practices.

Remember, the more your staff can accomplish on their own, the less you have to intercede.

Having Fun

Certainly, 2020 and 2021 have made it difficult for organizations to have their traditional social outings, but we have been clever with our virtual activities.  Here are a few fun ideas to try:

  • Take a sanctioned one-hour break every couple of weeks to play online board games, such as, Virtual Pictionary, any from Board Game Arena, or Among Us where multiple players work to find one imposter who’s killing the rest of them.
  • Celebrate birthdays virtually — send a cake to the celebrant, set up a virtual meeting and sing Happy Birthday and share memorable birthday outings.
  • Establish a virtual coffee and/or happy hour, even if it’s just for a few minutes.