Are You Engaged Yet?
By Suzanne Goswick
Here are three tips for developing tomorrow’s YMCA leaders.
When discussing aspects of employee engagement and developing tomorrow’s YMCA leaders, we reflect on our own paths to leadership. Naturally, we absorb skills from those who have inspired us, and we have learned from those who have tested us. Through these experiences, we gain vast knowledge about what type of leaders we want to be and what type of leaders we want to create.
While developing leadership requires us to take ownership of our own path, it also requires that our colleagues and our organization provide development opportunities in a supportive environment. Being a good supervisor means finding opportunities to coach, providing experiences to learn, and striving to
build an engaged staff. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Listen and invest. Listen to what your employees are saying and invest in their career goals. Often, when people hear the word “invest,” they think money — but
that’s not always the case. YMCA’s often have limited resources, so be creative in helping your employees’ progress. For example, think about job titles. The
title on your resume today can have a major impact on your employment prospects in the future. Instead of having “welcome center attendant,” as the job title, think about renaming the role to “member service representative.” Remember, titles are an important recruitment tool and can make or break a candidate’s decision.
2. Leadership development. Create a culture where all staff are given clear direction to understand their goals and are given the support and encouragement to reach those goals. This requires a different approach to the supervisory relationship. Rather than a traditional management structure where supervisors hand out lists of tasks, a better approach is one where all staff are trained to coach their teams into discovering their own solutions. The majority of learning comes from on-the-job practice and implementation of skills and techniques, but training, coaching, and supervision are also important in development. If executed appropriately, leadership development will help staff evolve their leadership style in preparation for future career growth.
3. Employee engagement. Motivated employees are more productive, and in return, will contribute to the organization’s success. Here, we are focusing on the on-boarding process to get new employees up and running quickly and smoothly. The hiring managers are the ones most likely to help or hinder a new employee’s success and engagement within the organization. We are developing a consistent on-boarding process for all staff at the branch level using a model we call “the 4 Cs for on-boarding success.”
Clarification: understanding the job
Compliance: clear policies
Culture: expectations, personalities
Connection: interpersonal relationships, support mechanisms,
Organizations with best-in-class on-boarding processes have shown a significant year-over-year improvement in employee satisfaction.
Employees like it when things are easy and fast. With our workforce management system, not only is our on-boarding process paperless, saving tremendous amounts of time, but also employees have access to self-service features and are able to edit their own information without going through HR.
We can also house a lot of other information in the system, such as our employee handbook and employee newsletters, allowing employees more freedom.
In the end, it’s no secret that professional development is a two-way street between leaders and employees. As an employee, take ownership of your
own commitment to engagement and recognize the areas where you need further development. Communicate your goals to your supervisor and display
As a supervisor, be committed to developing engagement among your staff and peers. Meet with your staff. Be present and engaged; be mindful and reflective
of their opinions. Listen to the voices of the workforce and reframe your YMCA’s response. Coach them; do not tell them. Respect them. Search for opportunities
where they can grow through experience. Encourage self-development, and take them out of their comfort zone. Avoid defining them by their job description;
rather, allow their strengths to define their job. This roadmap will engage, motivate, and develop your staff.
Lastly, be purposeful in your leadership; it’s the most important role you have to carry out the YMCA mission.