Tag Archives: engagement around the work

The Pathway to Engagement

The path leading to a culture of engagement is linked with productivity, performance and job satisfaction. It follows a clear objective of engaging people around the one thing they all have in common—and the one thing that can bring about increased profitability and a sustainable competitive edge—the work.

As we all know, traditional employee engagement efforts have primarily failed to yield tangible results. They have also failed the sustainability test. As is the case with any improvement or change initiative, an ad-hoc approach involving little or no planning or structure, and lacking defined, measurable objectives, is prone to failure. This approach might be called “engagement for engagement’s sake.”

In contrast, a more focused approach of improving both the work and the workplace in a measurable way can result in high-levels of productivity, profitability and engagement!

As explained by Robin Gee, Coca-Cola’s Director of Employee Engagement, “We engage employees in aggressive efforts to eliminate waste and reinvest those savings in ways that are visible and meaningful to the employees.”

This perspective differs from traditional attempts at employee engagement in two critically-important ways:

  • A strong focus on productivity and continuous improvement as catalysts to engagement
  • A strong focus on measurement and return on investment

Of course this perspective is not necessarily new. For example, in 2012 ISO 10018 was introduced, which provides guidance on engaging people in an organization’s quality management system, and on enhancing their involvement and competence within it. The standard is applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type, or activity.

You might also note that ISO 10018 standards provide considerable leeway on how an organization specifically goes about its attainment. The emphasis placed on each requirement depends on an organization’s specific brand, culture, people, situation and goals. If you’d like to determine how close your organization is to achieving ISO 10018 certification, Engagement Strategies Media has created a chart that outlines the pathway. You can access the chart here.

Engagement, Motivation & Work

Enterprise engagement has been a frequently-addressed topic in this blog, and a recent post shared some of our Partners in Improvement group’s thoughts on an important element of an engagement strategy — rewards and recognition.

In that post, several points were made about being careful with the use of extrinsic, or monetary rewards as motivators.

To add some additional perspective,  the Enterprise Engagement Alliance shared information from a past New York Times column “The Secret of Effective Motivation,” in which authors Amy Wrzesniewski, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, and Barry Schwartz, Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College, suggest that the most effective type of motivation in terms of actual long-term results is action based on an internal motive — that is, “the pleasure derived from the activity and results themselves rather than from an instrumental motive such as the desire for fame or money.”

“Helping people focus on the meaning and impact of their work, rather than on, say, the financial returns it will bring, may be the best way to improve not only the quality of their work but also… their financial success,” the article states.

This viewpoint is well-aligned with our “Engagement Around the Work” approach, which involves specific steps for achieving a
culture of engagement that is linked with team productivity, performance, and job satisfaction.

This approach incorporates a clear objective of engaging people around the one thing they all have in common—and the one thing that can bring about increased profitability and a sustainable competitive edge—the work.

As Bill Conway often said, “It’s all about the work!”

Read “Engagement Around the Work” white paper.

Ready to Change?

Change is a critical component of growth and ongoing success, yet two-thirds of all change initiatives fail.

In fact, change is not always perceived as being good. In organizations of all types, people tend to look with skepticism at innovations and new methods, processes, policies and procedures; and people at all levels cringe at the suggestion that there might be a different or better way to do their jobs!

Yet without change comes stagnation and risk of obsolescence and loss, a-la Kodak, Polaroid, Blockbuster, and so many other once-robust organizations that experienced significant declines in market share (or worse) and profits as competitors introduced new and improved, lower-cost alternatives.

Long-term, the goal is not only a change in attitude, but behavioral change. The first step is to help people develop the right mental attitude and understand that change is a constant part of long-term success — to help them develop a readiness for change.

One way to achieve these objectives is to involve people at all levels in ongoing organizational change by making continuous improvement a permanent part of your corporate culture… by using the fundamental principles of continuous improvement and workforce engagement in a way that gets people at all levels to change the way they think, talk, work, and act… by educating and empowering people to improve both the work and the workplace – their work and their workplace!

People tend to become engaged when they feel productive… when they feel like they are achieving success and that they are an important part of the organization’s success; when they feel that they have a voice in creating a better, more productive workplace as well as a better future.

Make this type of measured pursuit a part your culture and the results can be astounding!

Read more …

4DX & Engagement Part 5: Accountability

Our previous few posts have focused on “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” a book  by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, and Jim Huling, and how the disciplines impact achieving goals as well as employee engagement.

These previous posts have shared perspectives on disciplines one, two and three. However, the fourth discipline ― accountability ― is the discipline that enables you to win.

Without a cadence of accountability, teams will have a much more difficult time and will tend to become less engaged. The threat, of course, is that the whirlwind of running the day-to-day business that will consume all the available time.

By ‘cadence’ the authors mean an inviolable regular schedule, commitments, and expectations.  Teams should meet every week, and it’s best to schedule the meetings at the same day and time each and every week. These meetings should never canceled ― they must be viewed as important and productive, thus promoting strong feelings of belonging, commitment, productivity, and accomplishment, which are all drivers of engagement.

At the end it is all about employee engagement; working on the right things in the right way and in a way that involves understanding and applying some paradoxical insights:

  • The fewer the goals, the more you get done.
  • Clarity of goals increases engagement, even when a vague goal seems safer.
  • Know your LAG measure, but find and act on LEAD measures to get the results you want.
  • People play differently when they are keeping score and they know if they are winning or losing; the commitment, consistency of focus, and the resulting sense of productivity are all key drivers of engagement.
  • Without a rhythm of accountability, the whirlwind will win.

Productivity & Workforce Engagement

While employee engagement has emerged as a key objective in today’s business world, a surprising number of organizations have no formalized engagement strategy.

Or they fall prey to the misconception that “happy employees are more productive employees,” which has been disproved time-and-time-again. As it turns out, dress-down Fridays, free pizza or flex-time programs might create some short-term buzz, but the excitement doesn’t last; and the impact is neither greater productivity nor higher engagement levels.

In fact, the opposite is the reality — that is,
“productive employees tend to be engaged
employees,” not the other way around.

Consider that people like to feel successful… they
like to be part of a winning team… a productive
team. You might also consider three important
and corroborating data points that were
published on Forbes.com:

  • A happy worker is not always a productive worker, and job satisfaction yields membership but not always productivity.
  • People differ in what they value and in what motivates them.
  • While it is typically better to have higher, rather than lower, engagement scores, engagement alone is not enough. In order to improve organizational performance, engagement, motivation, and performance must be addressed… and must be used to make data-based changes that will drive employee retention, performance, and commitment… not “just” engagement.

Driving productivity as a means of achieving and maintaining high-levels of workforce engagement enables an organization to more easily promote and reward desired behaviors, measure and document progress, and ultimately realize tangible results.

Equally as important, the measured return on investment enables leadership to further invest in the workforce as well as the workplace, thus promoting a culture of continuous
improvement and engagement throughout.

Engagement With a Purpose

Engagement with a purpose is a good way of building and sustaining a high-performing culture in a measurable way.

In many posts and during many client discussions, we have shared data showing that, when effectively initiated, enterprise engagement is the ideal way to achieve goals through people in a measurable way.

While studies have consistently found a high positive correlation between employee engagement and financial performance, the data also shows that correlation is not necessarily causation; and while employee engagement is a necessary ingredient for high performance, simply trying to make people happy is not enough.

In contrast, if we follow a strategic plan for engaging people around their work, we can achieve  a culture of engagement that is inextricably linked with team productivity, performance and job satisfaction — an organized plan for measurable results: engagement with a purpose.

Update on Engagement & Work

engagementproductivity2We have found that engagement and productivity are inextricably linked, but not in the way people tend to think!

As presented in our “Engagement Around the Work” white paper, people are much more likely to become engaged when they are productive… when they feel like they are achieving success, that they are part of the organization’s success, and that they are learning.

As it turns out, productivity leads to engagement, not the other way around; and this is a fundamental principle that clearly explains why so many organizations have had so much trouble engaging employees over the years – leaders were unaware of the things their employees really valued.

The dress-down Fridays, healthy snacks, and free lunches were nice, but they didn’t motivate people and they didn’t result in higher levels of engagement or productivity.

Only recently has it become clear to forward-thinking business leaders that the path to sustainable employee engagement is to drive productivity, and to do so through ongoing education and empowerment.

In support of this perspective, a recent article in Human Resource Executive magazine identified the four key things that college graduates value the most as they evaluate career options:

  • Flexibility and work/life balance
  • Continuous learning opportunities
  • A socially-responsible employer
  • Room to grow and personal development

In that article, data from a PwC survey of 44,000 workers who had become less-engaged indicated that “71% said their jobs interfered with their personal lives, and 70% said they wanted to be able to work from home.”

Similarly, a September 16th letsgrowleaders.com blog post shared the plight and surprise of a call center leader who had tried everything to address poor morale – bagels, lunches, contests and games. In the end she was shocked to find, “They didn’t want more fun, incentives or even time off the phones. It all came down to one thing. They wanted us to take a hard stand on the slackers.”

“Letting slackers slide may seem like a short-cut to being likable,” author and Human Capital Consultant Karin Hurt said. “But such pleaser behaviors crush the spirit of those making the biggest impact on your team.” It’s apparent that those who want to be productive and successful do not want to work with those who don’t.

Also quoted in the post was Paul Rubenstein, a partner at Aon Hewitt who said that prospective employees “want to know about your commitment to lifelong learning and development.”

 

 

CI & Engagement a Successful Combination

productivityAndEngagementJust like Continuous Improvement (CI) has become a standard component of doing business for most organizations, the emerging field of Enterprise Engagement applies a strategic approach to designing and implementing programs that achieve clear, measurable results through people.

When no one could measure the economic benefits of engagement, it was a “nice to have.” But now, as summarized in a recent article published by Engagement Strategies Media,  it is quickly becoming an essential means for maintaining a strong competitive position, as market share tends to go to those organizations that are the most productive and that “wow” not only their customers but all of the people involved with their businesses.

Yet most companies lack formalized engagement strategies.

Fortunately the emerging field of Enterprise Engagement has led others to take a more strategic approach, such as Engagement Around the Work. Based on the simple principle that productivity drives engagement, which in turn drives greater levels of productivity, this process-driven methodology can bring about breakthrough results.

While implementation strategies will vary, here are five of the things we have seen organizations do to achieve greater levels of productivity and engagement:

  1. As with all change initiatives, get acceptance and buy-in from senior leaders. Little will be accomplished without this; the best results are achieved when leaders understand the benefits of engagement and take action.
  2. Create a formalized implementation plan and establish performance measures so that progress can be tracked. Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives.
  3. Work with the leaders so that they can model the right behaviors and cascade the concepts to their reports and throughout the organization. These behaviors include timely performance feedback, effective listening, and empowering people with education and support.
  4. Reward and recognize people so that they feel supported in their efforts.
  5. Measure return on investment.

Engagement Around the Work

Our previous post shared perspective on how productivity drives engagement, and that by enabling our workforce to become culturally-involved in continuous improvement we can promote greater levels of productivity which, in turn, yields greater levels of workforce engagement.

And so on…

Data clearly indicates that this outcome is most desirable, as organizations with an engaged workforce consistently outperform those without.

Here’s a short video that shares more details:

How Productivity Drives Engagement

productivityAndEngagementIn an earlier post we shared some of the reasons why so many organizations struggle to engage their workforce. Among the challenges cited was the failure to understand the link between engagement and productivity.

Based on research and experience, we have concluded that productivity drives engagement, not the other-way-around. By increasing employees’ productivity, you get increased engagement, and that engagement, in turn, increases productivity, and the other positive and measurable results that come from increased engagement.

A couple of supporting comments:

“Employee happiness and morale is NOT the critical path to employee productivity. but productivity and employee achievement are the critical path to high morale and a happy work environment. Morale and employee happiness aren’t the means to the end — they are the end itself.” —Morale and Motivation Myth…No Strings Attached

“Improving our work is what ultimately captures the mind, the heart and the spirit of employees.” —Results From the Heart by Kyoshi Suzaki

The concept of productivity driving engagement is one of the core principles of our approach to engaging a workforce and, ultimately, customers and the marketplace — it’s all about the work.