The SMARTA approach to employee engagement

Guest Blog by Anne Allen, Director of People Experience, Xero UK

As the old adage goes: ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. While jobs should be secured on merit rather than pre-existing relationships, this remains largely true – relationships and connections will always be key in the world of business. This rule applies to customers and team members alike.

Having a good relationship with your employees and colleagues doesn’t just lead to more after-work socials, it helps build a strong company culture where employees are more likely to live and breathe your values, ambitions and ethics.

At Xero, we’re passionate about changing the world and want our team to be equally committed to supporting small businesses. We work hard to get the whole team marching to the same beat. Here are some tips we’ve picked up along the way to help your company.

Getting your team on the same page

We want our operating priorities to live beyond the boardroom. That means getting all of our people in on our main business goals and explaining how their job helps us achieve these.

Any company that wants to make this happen needs to create a clear and strong connection between company goals and helping people achieve them. Everyone need to know how they are contributing to the broader and higher purpose. This is where goal setting comes in handy – it helps to create a greater sense of meaning, direction and cohesion for each team member.

People goals count

It’s all too easy for business owners to get caught up in realising their own ambitions, forgetting that their people have their own ambitions too.

Senior management should aim to have their employees’ professional goals aligned with those of the business. Hiring good people is difficult and it takes time to train them up – so, once you’ve got them, you want to hold on and inspire them for as long as possible. Showing a keen interest in their desires and aspirations is a great way to keep employees fully engaged with your business.

We encourage our team members to realise their best selves through their work, personal and professional development. Our goal-setting process helps drive a deeper connection between the individual and the business. We agree goals for each team that clearly links back to the broader business goals so that everyone can see how they’re contributing to the bigger picture. There’s a palpable energy and buzz when these conversations happen and true alignment takes shape.

Get SMARTA

We’ve adopted the SMARTA goal-setting process. This is the traditional SMART approach (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) with the added “A” standing for ‘alignment’. This ‘alignment’ aspect encompasses two key messages:

  1. Alignment with the company’s strategy

This relies on managers helping employees to set goals that drive key operating priorities. It ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction and helps them understand how they are contributing to the overall success of the company, which is critical for employee engagement.

  1. Emphasis on personal alignment

This adds a new and more exciting dimension to goal setting. It encourages managers and employees to discuss and uncover personal motivators and drivers to explore how work can help individuals maximise their potential.

Having a sense of individuality and purpose is crucial in driving a much-deeper connection with the business. The time invested in understanding an individual’s true aspirations boosts trust and communication and helps the business and the employee thrive.

For your business to succeed you need a strong team behind you. Adopting a people-centric approach is crucial to fostering an engaged and committed team. Taking an active interest in your team’s personal and professional ambitions by adopting SMARTA goals is a great way of putting this growth-orientated approach into practice. Get your team inspired  – and your business will reap the benefits.

Author: editorialassistant

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