In this video, the case is made for employee engagement and its organisational benefits. Legitimate Leadership fully agrees that the most important criterion for sustained organisational performance is the degree to which the will of employees is engaged to go above and beyond in the pursuit of the organisation’s objectives. For people to contribute in the workplace, more important than either what people have (systems), or know (skills and knowledge), is their willingness.
The video also provides a system for categorising people in terms of both their performances and their willingness. It states what managers, individually and collectively, need to do to both increase employee satisfaction and improve organisational performance.
However what the authors do not identify here is that a person’s willingness to work, more than anything else, is determined by the nature of the relationship he has with his immediate manager and the intent of that manager. Only when the manager’s intent is to give to her people will they be willing. The “give” that she needs to make is highly specific: it is to have a sincere and genuine interest in her people’s welfare and to enable them to realise the best in themselves. To deliver on these two criteria requires a manager to understand what makes each of the people reporting to her tick and to align what care and growth she gives to each of them, according to their individual needs and circumstances.
OUR SUMMARY OF THIS VIDEO: So what exactly is employee engagement? Why should you as a business leader or manager care about it?
I’m going to define it using our X model of engagement and talk about how you can build a more engaged workforce in your organization to help drive performance.
Let’s start by looking at what your organization is trying to achieve – your success.
Success is defined by your business goals and most likely your financial targets, and how well you achieve those goals – your performance.
Core values are also an important part of your strategy since they help guide the daily actions of your organization.
To stay competitive your organization needs individuals who are willing and able to perform at higher levels, to give more at work, to give maximum contribution to the organization. But this is not something that you can mandate or delegate to your managers – and it’s not easy.
Increased contribution is the prize of a more engaged workforce. But it’s only one half of what we call “the engagement equation”.
Individual employees are on a separate path towards their own and unique definition of success at work which is based on personal values, goals, career aspirations and work-life needs. It could be defined as “greater compensation, professional growth, greater work/life balance.”
But, unlike the organization, there’s no one answer, there’s no right answer. Individuals are all looking for work that works for them personally, and they’re looking for maximum satisfaction.
And when I say individuals I mean everyone – executives, managers and individual contributors.
They’re all pursuing their own individual definitions of success and ultimately they need to take control of their own engagement.
So the organization is pursuing its definition of success and individuals are pursuing theirs.
These two strategies intersect daily at a place we call “the job”. This is the point where what the organization needs employees to give, and what employees want to get from the job, come together.
We define full engagement as the intersection of maximum contribution for the organization and maximum satisfaction for the individual. This is the apex in our model – a sustainable level of high performance that mutually benefits both parties.
Of course when we look across any organization, not everyone is at the apex, and certainly not all the time. There is a wide distribution in terms of contribution, with high performers on one end and people who aren’t contributing much on the other.
Individuals also don’t always get what they’re looking for – they are at different levels of satisfaction.
Some people are fortunate enough to be at the apex – high on both contribution and satisfaction, We call this group “The Engaged”.
Some people are high on satisfaction but they aren’t contributing fully. There are a few things that might be going on here: the person might be new to the organization or new to the role. Although satisfaction is high the person is not yet fully up to speed. We call this group “The Honeymooners”.
We also find people who are incredibly busy. They are working hard, but on the wrong things. And people who have found a nice cosy spot in the organization and are content with minimum contribution. Whether they’re running hard on an exercise wheel or tucked away somewhere cosy, we call this group “The Hamsters”.
On the opposite side of the model we have individuals who are delivering great results but for some reason are not getting what they want from the work. We call this group “The Crash and Burners”. You need to pay close attention to this group. Clearly their level of contribution needs to be sustained for the organization to succeed but, left unmanaged, these individuals will eventually find one of two exit routes from this unsatisfying situation: they might quit at a great known cost to the organization, or more likely, they will simply pull back on their contributions and drift into the lower part of the model. In effect, they quit and stay.
The impact of drifting isn’t as obvious as when they leave outright, but the impact on performance can be substantial. They join the disengaged – low on satisfaction and contribution, where no one is getting what they need from the relationship.
Disengaged employees often have turned an emotional corner and their attitudes and behaviors can be contagious to the other groups. Here the partnership between the company and the individual is clearly in need of a fix but your existing performance management processes have failed to address the situation.
So what about the people in the center?
This is an important group we refer to as “The Almost Engaged”. Important because they tend to be a large part of the employee population doing a decent job, and reasonably satisfied.
They are more employable than the disengaged and more likely to consider a new employer than the fully engaged. And because they are decent performers it’s tempting to focus your coaching efforts elsewhere.
So the challenge for your organization is managing this dynamic; aligning individuals to your goals to achieve maximum contribution while at the same time supporting individual employees achieve personal success at work.
It’s a challenge you can’t solve with a survey or a few organization-wide initiatives. And it’s not solely the job of the executives or the managers.
To drive employee engagement you must make it a daily priority.
Creating a more engaged workforce is a shared responsibility. It requires a team approach, a partnership involving individuals, managers and executives. Individuals need to act on their engagement, they need to take time to assess their own goals and satisfaction drivers to clearly define what success looks like for them.
Since this is a partnership they need to communicate, with their managers primarily, not only to share their aspirations and needs but also to clarify where the organization needs them to focus their talents and energy.
And finally they need to take action. They can expect help coaching and guidance along the way but at the end of the day they own their engagement. They need to find ways to get to the apex.
Managers play an important role since engagement is an individualized equation. Only they can work one-on-one with their team members to coach them to higher levels.
The fact is managers need to care about engagement if they want to reach their goals. They need to build solid coaching relationships with their team members; they need to coach for performance and for development; they need to align daily priorities, interests and talents to the organization’s goals; and they need to recognize and show appreciation for discretionary effort and achievements that are in line with the strategy. Finally, they need to engage themselves and engage each individual on the team and dialogue about what matters most for the organization and for them.
The best managers are able to directly connect the individual passions and proficiencies of their team to the organization’s priorities.
Okay, so what about the executives, the senior leaders … what is their role in this teamed approach? Clearly they are also individuals and need to pay attention to their own engagement and the engagement of their direct reports. They need to model what they expect their managers to do with their teams. This is a great opportunity to lead by example.
But beyond this, they have an important role in setting the tone, providing clarity around the goals and the strategy. Ultimately, they need to make their case for engagement.
By this I mean they need to foster a sense of community within the organization. They need to be authentic in what they say and what they do. They must provide significance to the aims of the organization to really help employees find greater meaning in the work they do and build excitement to move the organization forward.
By making engagement a part of the company culture, making it a daily occurrence versus an event, and by addressing it as a team (at the individual, manager and executive levels), an organization can over time build a culture of engagement that drives performance. One in which each individual is achieving his ambitions and finding maximum satisfaction in his work, but also contributing more at work to drive the organization’s success.