Engagement is not just for surveys
Friday, 20th May 2016
Ever feel like it’s that time of year again? You know when everyone suddenly cares about engagement, or to be more specific cares about engagement scores. Your inbox is full from the requests for guidance, the pressure is on to see the questions and you’re eight miles high on the seventh complimentary coffee of the day. Everyone is merrily carrying on about their work, without but a second thought for the engagement of their team. But survey time and yep everyone wants to be engaging leader of the year. Anything to do with the personal element of their bonus perhaps? Or have the clouds of dust coming off last year’s action plans caused a sudden epiphany that just maybe there might something in this engagement malarkey.
Engagement is simple.
How do you feel about your job? Do you feel valued? Do you believe what you do is of value?
We all know that the more positive you are about your job the harder you try for your stakeholders, your colleagues, and the more you give of yourself. When you’re engaged in your work everyone wins.
The challenge for any organisation is how do you create a high engagement environment for everyone?
Engage for Success tried to answer this question and through extensive research identified four enablers of engagement (source: http://engageforsuccess.org/the-four-enablers ). This is the foundation, without these then a high engagement culture is going to be impossible. Here is a reminder of the key elements:
- A strategic narrative: this is about plotting a course everyone understands and can believe in, led by leaders we have confidence will deliver.
- Engaging managers: the most influential element, a boss who cares about you and what you do whether it’s good or bad is essential. They know how to support and challenge you to do your best work. They understand and value you as an individual.
- Employee voice: we make it easy for everyone in the organisation to be listened to. We all have a role to play in improving how we work together. We actively listen and there’s shared responsibility to take action. If I get involved things get better.
- Integrity: the hardest enabler. Simply put, is what we say we do and how we do it the way things really work here?
In addition to this will be tactical elements unique to the organisation, historical ways of working or processes which get in the way of engagement (e.g. inconsistent pay rates, poor equipment/tools, lack of resource). These are distractions which need to be prioritised and resolved. Doing this gives the four enablers the attention and credibility they need to succeed. It also builds confidence that the organisation listens and acts upon feedback.
We have a clear idea of the things we need to do. None of them sound hugely complicated to achieve. So why are so many people working in low engagement environments? And why are so many businesses failing to make sustained progress?
Imagine we pause for a minute before we get down into the tasks and ask all of our leaders to reflect on and answer honestly these three questions:
- Do you truly believe in the power of engagement?
- Do your routines and actions reinforce this belief?
- Are you committed to creating a high engagement culture?
What do you reckon the response is in your organisation? 100% positive? The difficult truth is that every leader of the organisation needs to answer YES to these three questions. For success to last these are non-negotiables. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome but that’s the role of engagement experts, to inspire our leaders to think about this differently and what it really means about the way they lead.
The organisation needs to place the highest value on engagement through its reward, recognition and recruitment practices. A credible measure correlated to business performance should be treated with the same esteem as any other Key Performance Indicator. This measure needs to focus on the inputs (the routines and actions which build engagement and the commitment of the organisation to the power of engagement) and the outputs (the feelings of our people and their actions).
Engaging routines need to become habitual and natural, not just brought out for special occasions, but deeply embedded in the way things are done around here, every day. The more senior the leader the more visible and influential their behaviour is and that power should never be underestimated. One false move can cause unintended lasting damage.
We believe passionately in the power of engagement, just like everyone reading this no doubt does. If we really want to change the perception that engagement is just for surveys, we need to be brave and ask more difficult questions, establish deep commitment to the cause across the board, and help people think differently about the role they play. Satisfying as landing a great engagement survey is, there is a far more engaging opportunity for all of us. Imagine what might happen to the engagement of the people in your organisation when you deliver that.
So when your survey has closed, then what? Join us for our action planning workshop to find out more.