Want to win new customers? Get engaged!

Ever hear of employee engagement? It is, in part, when management takes a genuine interest in employee development. When employees do a good job, they’re recognized and praised. When employees need improvement, they are coached and given the tools necessary to become better employees.

Although all employees have weaknesses—some that may never go away—those weaknesses can be minimized by focusing on developing employees’ strengths. In other words, managers should be focusing on what employees are good at.

In its latest State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide report, Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton writes about what business leaders can do to improve employee engagement and performance at the companies they lead.

“Trying to get employees to fix their weaknesses doesn’t work,” Clifton states. “Weaknesses can’t be developed much at all—but employees’ strengths can be developed infinitely. The problem is, too many companies focus on fixing weaknesses, and this only breeds non-engagement or, worse, active disengagement.”

A whopping 87 percent of workers are not engaged, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their work and therefore are less likely to be productive. In other words, “Work is more often a source of frustration than one of fulfillment,” Gallup reports.

What’s interesting about employee engagement may surprise you.

When leaders are doing their job to develop plans around their employees’ strengths, employees will be more productive. “When employees work from strengths, nothing motivates them to achieve more—not money, not love, not vacations, not good benefits…,” according to Clifton.

And the benefit of that productivity? Winning new customers.

Winning new customers is certainly important today, but it will be particularly important for a company’s future strength and growth. According to Gallup’s report, the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of the production of goods and services adjusted for price changes, is US$60 trillion. In the next 30 years, that amount will more than triple to US$200 trillion. That statistic should cause any company to salivate as it anticipates gaining new customers. Within the next 30 years the global economy will have US$140 trillion of new customers.

To win some of those customers, a business is going to have to be sure that its employees are engaged. According to Gallup, “Countries that double the number of engaged employees in every company will be best positioned to win the lion’s share of the $140 trillion in new customers.”

Where does employee engagement really begin? Communication! Leaders and managers who communicate honestly and frequently with employees, and employees who communicate informally with each other, will begin to breed a culture of engagement, according to the Gallup report.

Talking to improve business isn’t just some ethereal idea that’s up in the clouds. Said theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking: “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking.”

So start talking and developing a culture of engagement. It’s good for managers, employees, and winning new customers.