Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the past 10 years or so, employee engagement has quickly taken front and center. Its influence on bottom line numbers has been researched extensively and CEOs and other organizational leaders are sitting up and taking notice. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, companies that focus on being “People” Companies have “outperformed the market average in eight out of ten years“. In 2011, that difference was 99 percentage points in favor of “People” Companies. What’s a People Company? One that is committed to investing in the development of people as a means to enjoy better economic performance.
Employee engagement has to meet organizational goals and still add value to the personal and professional goals of the individual. The moment this balance is skewed in favor of one party over another, they both lose. If you’re not up to scratch on your engagement efforts and feel like you’re trying to sort out how to begin eating this elephant, take heart. You can utilize something that may already be on your radar to help.
There is little in the life of a business that captures its attention more than significant change. A laser-like focus begins to develop and people are at least expecting something new as a means to navigate the yet unfamiliar territory change tends to bring in its wake. Change provides an opportunity for questions, the openness to communicate uncertainty and the need to become more human with others in your organization.
Questions. Open communication. Human vulnerability. All key components to good engagement. Change also gives you enough latitude to revisit your values and cultural norms. Change that’s going to come anyway may be the best excuse to get off your duff and get cracking on improving your engagement levels and work towards becoming one of those mysteriously profitable “People” Companies.
Questions. Open communication. Human vulnerability. All key components to good engagement.”~William Powell Tweet this
Here are a few tips to help make change a great catalyst for improving your engagement levels:
- Critique your values – Will your current values support the change AND facilitate engagement? Be true to your organizational DNA, but make sure the language around your values has adequate purpose to communicate effectively enough to increase engagement. It has to speak to individual – as well as organizational – needs, desires and goals.
- Re-visit your mission statement – I’ve seen many organizations spend so much time crafting language around values and engagement and cultural refinement then not even touch their mission statement. Often times, this can lead to a seriously mixed message and actually decrease engagement. It’s tough to engage in something that is confusing or contradictory.
- Communicate alignment – As you reinforce the ranks to be prepared for change, take that opportunity to connect their roles to the vision and values and how that will make the change less painful. When people know HOW they are contributing to the success of something bigger than themselves, engagement happens much more easily.
- Challenge leadership – Don’t let your leaders sit in the corner and chew their nails while they wait to get run over by the change train. Completely uncool and unfruitful. Rally them around the benefits of navigating the change. How will the change develop them as a team? As leaders? What will be the individual win and the organizational win? Have them be active in the process and the communication of the benefits of it. This will drive engagement.
- Get your hands dirty – Find out where people feel overwhelmed and ask how you can help make it less ominous. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own engagement, but leadership is responsible for creating an atmosphere that facilitates that ownership. Provide an opportunity for people to communicate their anxieties and perceptions of the situation. Simple dialogue can do wonders for engagement.
- Include others – There needs to be a plan of action to effectively navigate the change. People doing the job probably have some great insight into how best to make it more effective and productive. You hired adults, so instead of being a babysitter with a manager title, listen to what they have to say. The more influence you can give them, the more effort they will put into implementing the solution they helped develop.
Change doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. It can be the biggest blessing your organization can receive if positioned properly. Imagine coming out on the other side of change stronger and more engaged, instead of beat up and only having survived the process. It’s time to make a difference. What will you do?