Tag Archives: enterprise engagement

Guess Who’s Trying to Sink Your Boat!

crew team

At a Gallup presentation the audience was asked to imagine their business was a ten-person crew boat.

The speaker then went on to share data (at the time) indicating approximately 30% of the US workforce fell into the “engaged” category, which meant that they were invested in their work and workplace, that they made a strong discretionary effort, and worked at a very productive level.

If these people were on your crew boat, they would be diligently ‘manning their oars.’

We were then informed that just over half of the US workforce fell into the disengaged category. These people were not highly-motivated and, though they made a fair effort each day, they were more likely to do only what had to be done – and sometimes less!

If these people were on your crew boat, they would occasionally dip their oars in the water but mostly sit idle looking at the scenery.

The remainder of the nation’s workforce, we were told, fell into the actively disengaged category. These people tend to undermine the work, spread rumors, call out sick at higher rates and do only the bare minimum.

If they were on your crew boat, they would most likely be trying to sink it!

Makes a strong case for implementing a formalized engagement plan, wouldn’t you say?

The CEO & Enterprise Engagement


Since our inception we have stressed the fact that an organization’s leadership must champion a Continuous Improvement (CI) effort if it is to become cultural and if it is to succeed in a sustainable fashion.

Along similar lines, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance has shared data as well as experiences indicating the same holds true for engaging employees and customers; and just like a culture of CI, a culture of engagement generates a measurable return on investment.

“A CEO-led strategic and systematic approach to human capital management can enhance performance and create a better experience for all,” an article on the Enterprise Engagement Media website states.

“Without the leadership of the CEO, it is impossible for an organization to fully engage all its stakeholders in its brand, mission and goals—customers, employees, distribution partners, vendors, communities, shareholders, etc.—or to achieve measurable ROI.”

The Enterprise Engagement Alliance was the first to give a name to this strategic and systematic process to connect and align all stakeholders toward a common brand, mission, values, and goals, naming it “Enterprise Engagement.”

Rewards & Recognition Best Practices

Recent posts have focused on “rewards and recognition,” a crucial component of enterprise engagement.

We shared a range of perspectives based on discussions with our Partners in Improvement groups, who agreed that these programs are typically designed to achieve one of three objectives:

  • increased commitment
  • increased desired behavior or motivation
  • increased measurable results

Based on their collective experience the Partners identified the following eight criteria or best practices for an effective rewards and recognition program:

  1. Keep it simple: The most cost effective method of all seemed to be the simple thank you note. The notes, if done well, are widely appreciated and cost nothing more than the time and attention to set up a system of information when an individual or team deserved a thank you.
  2. Be very careful about extrinsic rewards: these can cause more trouble than benefits. Extrinsic rewards require very clear metrics, auditing, and careful, even elaborate design to ensure a focus on the rewarded metrics will not lead to deterioration of other facets of the organization. Obviously, this makes it hard to ‘keep it simple.’
  3. Be specific: it is much more effective to recognize a team or a person for a specific result or accomplishment than for generally doing a good job.
  4. Be timely: the closer in time the reward or recognition is to the accomplishment being recognized, the more impactful it will be.
  5. Be consistent: Be sure that you respond to comparable accomplishments in comparable ways.
  6. Be authentic: Sincerity in words of appreciation and praise are essential to an effective system of reward and recognition.
  7. Communicate widely: Publicity helps extend the celebration and communicates widely what is valued by the organization.
  8. Use team rewards to encourage better organization-wide results.

Engagement & CI Correlation

In one of last year’s posts we noted that, while enterprise engagement has emerged as a key objective in today’s business world, a surprising number of organizations have no formalized engagement strategy.

At this year’s Engagement World Conference in Galveston, this fact was once again recognized, along with several other connections between enterprise engagement and Continuous Improvement (CI).

For one, an ad-hoc approach is almost never effective.

Whether attempting to engage a workforce or drive continuous improvement, a formalized plan with clearly-stated objectives and measures is required.

Similarly, without the buy-in and support of top management, engagement and improvement efforts alike are bound to fail… they will not become the “cultural way,” and instead will simply peter-out as priorities shift.

Another correlation is the importance of quantification. Just as a CI project requires us to quantify waste and the gains our effort will generate, a successful engagement initiative will include the calculation of an anticipated return on investment or ROI once objectives are achieved.

Finally, just as ISO 9001 helped bring-about the use of more standard procedures in CI, ISO 10018 will now encourage organizations to standardize their engagement efforts. 

As noted in our previous post, the emergence of these new standards brings into focus both process improvement and quality people management/engagement, both of which are necessary to achieve and sustain high levels of quality and performance.



ISO Quality Management Principles – Balancing Process & People

As you may know, in 2015 the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) issued an update to its widely followed 9001 standards. 

This update was not, at the time, officially part of the 9001 standards, but it included the addition of new Quality Management Principles outlining, according to an Engagement Strategies Media (ESM) article, the fundamental conditions necessary for an organization to sustain high levels of quality and performance.

The Quality Management Principles are:
  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Engagement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Evidence-based decision-making
  7. Relationship management

As noted in the article, these principles focus on both “process” and “people/engagement.” As the article goes on to suggest, this balanced focus is clearly necessary to achieve and sustain high levels of quality and performance.

Read the full article…

ISO 10018 Certification: Engagement Standards!

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) will kick-off the creation of the world’s first academic Enterprise Engagement (EE) Innovation Center at Engagement World, May 7-9 in Galveston, the UTMB’s headquarters city.

The Innovation Center is a division of UTMB’s International Center for Enterprise Engagement at TheICEE.org, which was founded last year to manage the first ISO 10018 Quality People Management certification and support the creation of standards in all areas of engagement.

“Our mission is to create a formal academic and business discipline and a vibrant marketplace that provides expertise and solutions to help organizations engage all key audiences, customers, patients, distribution partners, employees, vendors and communities in a more efficient way based on a better return-on-investment,” said Dr. Ron McKinley, the Center’s co-founder and President.

Lee S. Webster, co-founder of ICEE, added, “We have seen what ISO 9001 has done for Quality Management, and we’re confident a systematic approach based on standards can do the same for Quality People Management.”

Read the full article… 

The Most Effectively Managed U.S. Companies

On Wednesday December 6, 2017, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the country’s most effectively-managed companies as ranked by the Drucker Institute.

Interestingly, the selections were based on a “holistic approach, examining how well a business does in five areas that reflect Mr. Drucker’s core principles.” These areas are:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Employee engagement and development
  3. Innovation
  4. Social responsibility
  5. Financial strength

In case you’re curious, the top 5 on Drucker’s “250 most effectively-managed” list are:

  1. Amazon.com Inc.
  2. Apple Inc.
  3. Alphabet Inc.
  4. Johnson & Johnson
  5. I.B.M. Corp.

It’s encouraging to see customer satisfaction and employee engagement/development atop the criteria list, as these emerging measures have proved to be common threads among the most successful organizations we’ve encountered — these organizations tend to enjoy a safer, more productive workplace, with low team turnover, high safety ratings, and high customer retention rates; they operate with a culture of continuous improvement, and they are consistently able to achieve goals through people in a measurable way.

Engagement R.O.I.?

As recently published by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, the Engaged Company Stock Index (ECSI) has continued to out-pace both expectations and recognized financial industry indexes.

The ECSI tracks the long-term results of companies with high levels of customer, employee, and community engagement as determined by independent data sources compiled by McBassi & Company.  It has outperformed the S&P 500 (including dividends) by 25.6% in 4 ½ years.

The Good Company portfolio includes 45 companies with combined high scores as employers, sellers, and stewards of the community and environment.

Tracking of the portfolio began on October 1, 2012.  The consistently good performance aligns with our experience that productivity and engagement are closely linked.

Read the full article…

Funding Engagement & Improvement Initiatives Through ROI

engagementroiEarlier this year a Deloitte research summary reported that 87 percent of business leaders “cite organizational culture and employee engagement as their top challenge.”

Fortunately we don’t need to create new budgets to engage people, as outlined in a recent article published by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance. Instead, dollars can be spent more wisely by aligning engagement and improvement efforts to better-address all of the “levers of engagement,” and to improve both the work and workplace in measurable ways.

In many cases, organizations are already doing some of the fundamental work; the difference is to take a more strategic approach to these activities by applying proven engagement and continuous improvement best practices.

This approach will include:

  • Creating a formalized implementation plan and establishing performance measures so that progress can be tracked.
  • Developing realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives.
  • Working with the leaders so that they can model the right behaviors and cascade the concepts to their reports and throughout the organization.
  • Identifying and quantifying opportunities for improvement and engagement.
  • Fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, continuous improvement, and fun.
  • Making sure people have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.
  • Maintaining open lines of communication, including the rewarding and recognizing of people so that they feel supported in their efforts.
  • Measuring return on investment.


Defining Engagement

engagement4Several prior posts have focused on the concept of enterprise engagement, and we’ve shared some of the research showing that increasing engagement is a good thing.

For example,  companies with engaged employees have 6% higher net profit margins (Towers Perrin),  and engaged companies consistently generate higher shareholder returns (Kenexa). In addition, organizations with highly-engaged workers enjoy lower turnover, higher safety ratings, fewer product defects, reduced absenteeism, greater productivity, and higher profitability with better customer satisfaction metrics.

We’ve also shared some troubling-but-true realities based on research by Gallup and others,  such as the fact that only 30% of American employees are engaged at work; and the 70% that are not engaged costs the nation $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity!

But in spite of the clear benefits,  traditional engagement efforts have failed to yield tangible results and have also failed the sustainability test.

The reasons for this lack of success are varied, and over the next few posts we’ll share some thoughts on some of the more common causes of failure to engage employees and customers.

To begin, one reason for unsuccessful engagement efforts is that people often fail to understand what engagement is and what it is not.

Defining Engagement – We Know it When We See it!
Stephen Wendel from HelloWallet offers a commonly used definition of engagement: “Engagement means having an emotional attachment to work.”

With this definition, employees emotionally care about their work and their company. He further describes employee engagement as a mental state — it’s something in our heads and hearts that represents the attachment we feel to our work.

The definition also includes an element of discretionary effort. “Engaged workers don’t work just for a paycheck or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.”

Engaged employees are willing to go “above and beyond” what is expected of them. You can call it “being all in” “or doing 110%.” Whatever we call it, we know it when we see it.

We Know What Engagement is Not
On the other hand, disengaged employees are unlikely to “go the extra mile” or even go the first mile.

They do the minimum or sometimes even less. They take more sick days, are tardy more often and sometimes even undermine the work. Many actively disengaged employees also bring about documented increases in customer dissatisfaction and complaints, and decrease morale among potentially-engaged workers.

Now that we’ve confirmed what engagement “is-and-is-not,” our next post will share some of the additional and most common causes of a failure to engage…