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Raising the Bar Without Damaging Engagement

Posted on Jul 30th 2019


Raising the Bar Without Damaging Engagement

A lot of friction can come with elevated performance standards.

For employees used to doing the minimum required, elevated expectations can raise questions of pay and contribution. If they were getting paid $15 an hour to perform tasks and functions at a basic level, a new workload and set of higher expectations can make them feel as though their pay should change to remain commensurate with the quality or volume of their work.

For employees already going above and beyond, it can illuminate their isolation on an underperforming team and cause concerns about why they haven’t been rewarded more in pay, promotions, or additional responsibilities.

And for employees meeting current expectations, doing no more or no less, the uneasiness of change and the pressure of doing more can still result in discomfort.

In all three of these situations, it can feel as though raising expectations might be the fatal blow to the engagement you’ve worked so hard to cultivate throughout your organization.

But there are a few simple practices you can implement to drive toward desired results without losing valuable employees.

Communicate Clearly

An employee’s understanding of why expectations are being raised and what it means for them personally can be the determining factor in whether they fail or fly. Leave no question unanswered and no detail unaddressed. The clearer your communication, the better their understanding.

Let Them Be Heard

Informing your employees of change is only a small portion of managing elevated expectations. Talking with your team in only a group setting can communicate to each member that their individual situation is unimportant to you as their manager and the company as a whole.

Talk with your team members one-on-one about the change, and let them address any concerns they have. Acting and leading with your people first in mind can move mountains when it comes to your employees’ willingness to rise to the occasion.

Show Them the Results

Employee engagement deepens when people can see the impact of their efforts. Whether that’s demonstrated in actual numbers, product rollouts, customer reviews, verbal shout outs, company-wide recognition, thank you notes, or money reallocated toward rewards your people care about, don’t miss the opportunity to show them what their contributions have accomplished.

This allows you to establish deeper buy-in to the change and reinforce each employee’s short- and long-term engagement. Seeing positive results from change also adds truth to the message that they can trust you and your judgment as their leader, knowing that you trust their abilities and keep them top of mind at every juncture.