Monday, February 27, 2012

Engagement Doesn't Mean I Love You

I like to think (read here => convince myself) that I’m contributing to my organization somehow; and that the employees feel more connected to the company as their years of service grow. One of the ways many companies try to quantify this issue (after all, shouldn't everything in life be reduced to a number?!) to use an employee engagement survey. We try in vain to identify how the employees feel, take a snapshot of those feelings, and then quickly move on. Or at least that's how it's been done using most survey tools.

Need to Go Deeper
Getting beyond the snapshot mentality is paramount to really understanding employee engagement and being able to make work better. As leaders, this is our primary responsibility => make work better. So the next generation of survey tools must be able to grab the snapshot and turn it into something more than just a kick-0ff to "better communication" at the department or unit level. 

"It's almost unfair that we survey employees for a moment in time and then expect our front line leaders to turn that into a fully engaged and satisfied workforce."

We're All Individuals
So how should an organization go about truly understanding their workforce, and then making changes based on that workforce? Well, it starts with moving away from the tired and ineffective strategy of putting employees in categories.

Each employee is unique, is motivated by different issues, and is struggling with their own special set of circumstances in their personal life. To think that so many different people can walk through the front door of a company and suddenly morph into one cohesive group that thinks alike, speaks alike, is motivated by the same set of drivers, and should be held accountable in the same way sounds absurd. Yet that's exactly what happens all too often.

How About You
Employee engagement is not about loving, or even liking everyone on the payroll. It is about understanding each member of your (and my) team, so we can provide them with the resources, support, and opportunities to be make work better. How do you handle engagement? Please don't tell me you get down on one knee.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of benefitscanada


  1. Good post Jay. While I agree with you that you don't have to love and/or like everyone on the payroll, I do think you have to care about them...truly care about them in order to fully engage them. If managers/supervisors could prove they can do otherwise, I'd be willing to admit I'm wrong but in my 18+ years of working in HR, I have yet to find a manager who has fully engaged his/her staff without giving a darn about them! :-) (BTW, title of my latest blog post was "all you need is love"!) Nonetheless, you have some great points and this is an excellent thank you!

    1. Thanks Heather...and I agree. Leaders need to show a connection between themselves and their teams. Otherwise, any feedback will be viewed as insincere and meaningless. Thanks for the comment.

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