“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
We assume, of course, that when Gandalf said this in The Lord of the Rings he was talking about creating and maintaining a highly engaged team—and if you think about it, the Fellowship definitely was one (fight me).
So let’s look at the hobbits (ahem, habits) of highly engaged teams.
Engaged Teams Are Committed to Your Company’s Mission and Core Values
In The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship was able to work together despite their many differences due to their common mission. In our article on startup culture, we talked about the importance of defining your company’s mission and core values, and hiring with the idea of finding people who reflected those ideas back to you. This is why! A company culture that grows out of your company’s values means developing a natural synergy between what you believe and what you do.
Engaged Teams Have a Genuine Positive Attitude
Anyone can force a smile and tell customers to “Have a nice day!” but highly engaged teams are made up of people who do that without being forced—and they mean it! In The Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin were a committed and knowledgeable part of the team because they cared about the people they were working with and valued their successes, even if they occasionally had critical feedback about how the team went about achieving their goals.
Engaged Teams Are More Collaborative Than Competitive
A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, but engaged teams are more focused on collaboration. They know that jumping in and helping out is better than trying to come off as the best. Just imagine the outcome of The Lord of the Rings if Sam had been more concerned about coming off as the hero than supporting his teammate Frodo.
When the team wins, everybody wins.
Engaged Teams Can Be Relied Upon
Highly engaged teams get things done. They know how to effectively manage their time without constant oversight. This is because engaged teams are focused on the work, they care about the work, and they want to be doing the work.
They don’t procrastinate looking for something better to do because the work is the better thing they really want to be doing.
Engaged Teams Go Above and Beyond
You never have to tell an engaged team member the bare minimum standard they must meet—because they’ll strive to go the extra mile. If you trust your team to do the work and let them do it their way, you may be surprised by how much more invested they’ll be.
Managers Love Engaged Teams
And who wouldn’t?! Highly engaged teams—with their commitment, positivity, collaborative nature, reliability, responsibility, and overachiever status—are generally self-reliant and don’t need excessive input from management teams to get their work done. When Gandalf went missing after his tangle with the Balrog, the Fellowship still got things done.
This frees up managers to do higher-level work instead of babysitting their employees and their projects. Being able to focus on team-building, growth opportunities and implementing feedback are often considered “extras” that get pushed to the end of a manager’s to-do list, but when you have a highly engaged team, these extras can become the bulk of a manager’s day to day.
Bonus: How You Can Build a Highly Engaged Team
This all sounds great, right? But what if you’re not quite there yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got some proven ways to help you increase employee engagement levels!
Provide Training and Resources
This goes beyond workplace training. If you want employees to bring their whole selves to work to enrich your company, it makes sense to put some work into enriching your employees’ whole selves. Offering reimbursement for a set amount of personal development classes, or even just offering paid time to take self-improvement courses online, can be a huge motivator and show that you’re willing to give something back.
Seek Feedback—and Act on It
Many companies have an annual survey asking employees for feedback about the workplace. The thing that separates the companies who are going through the motions from the companies who have earned their highly effective teams is that the latter are responsive to the feedback they receive.
For example, if employees say they’d prefer some time off with their families for the holidays instead of a fancy party, and the company response is to throw an even bigger, fancier shindig with no time off, that’s likely to cause bad feelings. Employees will feel that not only were they not heard, their opinion was actively ignored.
Reward and Incentivize the Behavior You Want to See
If your teams are doing what you want them to do, show that you appreciate them! You can set up a formal reward system or keep things spontaneous—the main point is recognizing your teams for a job well done. This can be done with physical rewards like our Bondys (our pick: try a Stress Soother Gift Box to show your appreciation at the end of a tough annual project), a gift card, or even a handwritten thank you note.
Value the Commitment Your Employees Make to Your Company
Employees spend nearly one third of their adult lives at work. Instead of anything else they could choose to do with their lives, they’ve chosen to work for your company. That’s a lot of time and effort and care being directed at your workplace, and it makes sense to acknowledge that from a place of genuine thanks.
Allow Your Managers to Manage
To effectively manage, managers need to have both the responsibility for their team’s output and the autonomy to make changes that will encourage the output they want. This includes responsibilities like rewarding good work with increased compensation, and being able to negotiate benefits and schedule changes.
Highly engaged employees make up highly productive teams, and we’re here to help connect your employees and keep them motivated, even during a high-stress project like delivering the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom! Try any of our BondyTEAM team building boxes to maintain strong and highly engaged teams, or get started building a more effective work from home team with our BondyWFH boxes.