How to Improve Employee Engagement in Time for the New Year

November 20, 2017 10:00 am Published by

by Teri Giannetti


Photo by NeONBRAND, courtesy Unsplash


Are you struggling to get your employees to engage and adopt a new process or strategy? Have you heard the complaints from employees who are not happy with a new initiative or system? Is your team not performing well?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, your problem is likely the result of poor employee adoption. The good news is that there is still time this year to set up your team for success in the New Year, but you’ll need to act quickly and start the process now.

In my book, It’s All About the How, I provide a simple yet proven approach for executing business strategies and plans based on my extensive experience leading and managing such efforts. I developed an easy to remember acronym that identifies the most important elements. Developing your P.L.A.N. will ensure you are focused on the key components to effectively implement change.

The acronym includes the following:

P = Planning how to execute

L = Leadership support

A = Adoption within a group

N = Need to monitor and control

You might have a well thought out plan and solid leadership support, but without the “A” above that stands for Adoption within a group, your efforts will still likely fail. In my book, I describe how you can improve employee adoption and engagement throughout a transition effort by involving employees in the planning phase, establishing champions and implementing an effective recognition program.  Based on my experience, the best solution is to leverage all three approaches.

The first method is to engage employees in the planning phase. I firmly believe that employees doing the work have the answers to all problems within a business. This is a basic premise of Lean and Six Sigma; the best individuals to identify opportunities and to improve a process are those who currently execute the process. Therefore, by soliciting employee feedback about an initiative and by applying it to your end solution, you will not only garner support from employees, but you will also likely get a better solution.

The second method of improving employee adoption of plans is to establish employee champions who assist with the transition to the new program or initiative. The champions not only serve as experts on the new initiative, but they are also a resource to gather feedback to be shared with managers and leaders. The reality is that change is hard for most individuals. Sticking with what we know and doing things the way we have always done them seems easier. Therefore, assigning a champion to serve as a role model and mentor will provide support to teams as they go through very normal phases of resistance to change.

A third approach to employee engagement is to offer recognition and incentives throughout the transition process. The key consideration is that to be effective at employee recognition, you must study your team and understand what motivates them personally.

One of the best resources to help you identify quickly what is important to your employees can be found in the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, co-authored by Dr. White and Dr. Chapman. The premise of their book is that individuals tend to feel appreciated most in one or two of the following five categories:

  1. Words of Affirmation: This involves verbally affirming a positive characteristics about an employee. An example may be to publicly praise the person for a job well done.
  2. Quality Time: This is the act of giving an individual dedicated, focused attention. A good way to appreciate these employees is for the manager to set up weekly meetings and to give full attention to the employee during those times.
  3. Acts of Service: This type of individual feels most appreciated when they are offered assistance. You can show appreciation by offering to help them with a task and then following through on the commitment.
  4. Tangible Gifts: As the name suggests, some employees are motivated by gifts. The gifts do not have to be expensive; the key is the thoughtfulness behind the gift. For example, giving tickets to an employee to their favorite sporting event.
  5. Physical Touch: Some people value physical touch and in the workplace this might translate into a “high five” when they have done a good job.

All employees value each of these ways of showing appreciation to some extent, but typically each person has a primary language that is most important to them.

Since individuals tend to show appreciation the way we prefer to receive it, managers and employees can completely miss the mark recognizing each other, even though they value specific efforts.

Therefore, as a manager and leader, you must closely observe your employees to identify what is most important to them and then tailor your recognition appropriately. You can simply start by asking them questions, or by observing how they show appreciation to others. For example, if you see an individual who often buys small gifts for others, you can quickly assess that gifts are important to them.

There is also an online assessment called the MBA Inventory developed by Dr. White that can help managers and teammates better understand themselves and each other.

If you spend the remainder of the year involving your employees in your planning efforts, nominating employee champions to help lead changes and modifying your recognition programs based on what motivates your team, you will see dramatic improvements in employee engagement in the New Year.


Teri Giannetti, MBA, is a strategic business leader and consultant.

With more than 20 years of expertise, Teri has a black belt in Six Sigma and is passionate about giving junior- and senior-level business executives a fresh look at strategy implementation. She has developed and executed strategies in large and mid-size organizations achieving significant revenue growth, improved sales productivity, increased customer satisfaction and higher net income.

Additional information can be found at

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Published by
November 20, 2017 10:00 am

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