4 Paths to Increasing Employee Engagement within Your Supply Chain Team

Darrell Edwards, SVP & Chief Supply Chain Officer, La-Z-Boy Incorporated

Darrell Edwards, SVP & Chief Supply Chain Officer, La-Z-Boy Incorporated

Having led teams for many years, I have learned a few things about building engagement among winning teams in the workplace (I have learned a few things not to do too). The most effective organizational engagement strategies, the ones that seem to create the greatest buy-in from employees are usually the simplest ones. Surprisingly, when it comes to increasing employee engagement within the workplace, it can be as easy as executing a few fundamental concepts very well, which by the way, at times, can be hard to do. With that said, here are a few ideas worth a look, and just maybe worth a try somewhere within your supply chain.

It’s as simple as communication

Someone once said the three most important words in any business relationship are communication, communication, communication as cliché as this sounds, there’s more truth in this statement than not. But if communication is so important, why isn’t it practiced within organizations more often? Frankly, because really effective communication is hard work, actually, it is very hard work. Moreover, the benefit of communication can often have a delayed impact. Meaning, the investment of time required initially may not seem worth the effort, as it may be a while before behavior change occurs. Unfortunately, this is a misguided belief, as invariably with most initiatives, you will invest the time regardless, either through planning on the front-end or through repairing the collateral damage on the back-end. Perhaps the most impactful way to engage your team may be through the seemingly mundane day-to-day interactions. Every day wonderful small engagement opportunities present themselves for us to seize, we just need to be engaged enough ourselves to capitalize on them. It might be as simple as speaking to someone who walks by your office, or engaging someone while on a phone call about an unrelated subject, or having a plant-wide town hall meeting. Whatever the situation, by simply showing genuine interest in your team, you can build goodwill and solidify the type of engagement and loyalty that winning supply chain organizations aspire to achieve.

"Just remember, small personal gestures communicate caring from you as a leader, and subsequently builds employee engagement within the workplace "

Another tremendously powerful engagement tool is the written word, more specifically, the written note. Penning a few lines on a note card acknowledging some worthy accomplishment can build profound followership and employee engagement. Few gestures are more meaningful within the workplace than a personal note written to someone well deserving; it can create an incredibly powerful connection. Just remember, small personal gestures communicate caring from you as a leader, and subsequently builds employee engagement within the workplace.

Serve those you lead

Few management styles are more effective than people in leadership positions serving those who are on their team; simply put; serving those you lead. Listening sincerely to concerns from your team and then acting on the information builds confidence and trust, and oh, by the way, helps the business get better too. This concept of serving others can provide one of the most powerful engagement strategies deployed by any organization. People become invested in people and organizations that are invested in them. Seems the golden rule (treating others the way you would like to treated) works for leaders too. As Simon Sinek says, “be the leader you wish you had”, and work hard to serve those you lead.

Find ways to give of yourself to others

Generally, we all share a particular affinity to be a part of some greater community cause or some greater purpose. That purpose can manifest itself in different ways, such as maybe helping with a local charitable organization like a homeless shelter, or maybe it’s helping a local family in need, or maybe…..well, you get the idea. Whatever the situation, working as a team to find ways to help others in need can create engagement within the workplace. Maybe find a local cause that your supply chain can participate in as a team-building exercise. What a great win-win for the business and community. By championing worthy causes within the local communities your business serves, you can create a compelling, engaging purpose that unifies the team, and most importantly, makes a small part of the world a little better place.

Work hard, but play hard too

We all like winning much more than losing, no surprise here, and equally not surprising is winning is hard work. So after spending energy and resources to deliver those great results for the business, don’t forget to celebrate with your team too. Building a winning environment will increase the success proposition, and of the aforementioned actions will certainly build employee engagement. Not only is celebrating successes an engaging strategy, it also helps to reinforce a winning culture, creating that wonderful self-fulfilling prophecy we all aspire to create as leaders. When you reach this type of organizational nirvana, recognizing and celebrating it can cause the business to just get better and better; what a wonderful environment to help to create, and what fun too.

Putting it all together

So as you endeavor to build world-class supply chain teams through employee engagement you might want to consider a few fundamental concepts such as the art of effective communication. Remember, communication can be practiced either verbally or by a written note. As long as it is sincere and genuine, it will be effective and appreciated. Additionally, don’t underestimate the significance of leading your team with a servant mentality. Demonstrating you care enough to lead with humility by serving your team is not only a powerful statement itself; it will build engagement and loyalty. We all have an innate need to be a part of something great, something that transcends ourselves as individuals. Giving back and doing so as a team can be incredibly rewarding, can benefit others, and all the while, building an engaging team. Creating lasting organizational value is hard work and as such can be quiet stressful and should be recognized. Just remember as your team surmounts its business challenges, don’t forget to celebrate along the way, as it is very important in building not only employee engagement within your organization, but it’s also important to building the type of culture we all desire to be a part of.

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