In early 2015 SACS undertook a landmark study into staff engagement in partnership with Deakin University – our thanks to Simon Albrecht, the Senior Lecturer who led Deakin’s involvement in the project. We gained responses from in excess of 2700 people in various industry sectors across Australia on a range of questions related to their levels of engagement, which makes this one of the largest studies of its type in Australia’s history.
One set of questions related to the employee’s perceptions of the behaviours of their leaders. This gave us the opportunity to identify which leader behaviours had the greatest impact on the levels of engagement of staff. Staff engagement is a highly desirable characteristic – it is an excellent predictor of a range of important outcomes such as staff turnover and client and stakeholder satisfaction as well as financial success. If you want to have highly engaged staff, the four most important leader behaviours proved to be:
- Encouraging staff to make their own decisions. Top down leadership is very disengaging.
- Optimism and positivity. Good leaders focus on the future and tend to be optimistic about the abilities of their staff to achieve meaningful outcomes.
- Being helpful and kind and supporting staff.
- Creating a learning environment. Staff look to leaders to ensure that they improve their skills, experience and capabilities. Leaders who do this have way more engaged staff.
This is a useful checklist for high quality leadership.
In total we measured ten categories of leader behaviours which research has indicated to be important in causing a workforce to have high levels of engagement. SACS then created a 360 degree measurement tool to accurately measure these characteristics – a tool which is now being used by a range of our clients.