Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The New Buzz Word, "Employee Engagement"

Every place I go, people are asking about employee engagement. "Do you have employee engagement in your company?" and "How do I get employee engagement?" They're looking for it like people will soon be looking for the new I-Phone on EBAY.

So, how do you get employee engagement? Wait, first of all, what IS employee engagement? Wikipedia defines it as: "Employee engagement is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization's interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work." Simply put; do people WANT to do what you're having them do and at what level are they willing to work on it?

So, back to how you get it. Simple, don't force it, foster it. If you run around the hallways of your company with pom-poms yelling and screaming "Let's go team!", nobody is going to take you seriously. Obviously, enthusiasm on your part is an important ingredient in the process, but it has to be sincere. On the other hand, if you spend the first 2 hours of every work day playing Solitaire online against some 13 year old kid in Pakistan, people will notice. Good leaders don't ask other people to do things they wouldn't be willing to do themselves.

In one of our processes, "Cultural Jump Start" we define your company in terms of Code of Conduct, Core Values, Mission, and Vision statement. We start with defining each individual's own set of Core Values. Some execs say, "Why is this important? It's my company." It's important because these Core Values are built into and related to the company Core Values during the process. This way, people see the relationship between themselves and the company. They're not just a number, they actually helped define your company. They see themselves as an integral part of the organization. Their Core Values may not be identical to the organization, but they'll be able to see the similarities better than ever before.

I wish I could clone the manager in this article. He is naturally able to assess the level of employee engagement and assigns tasks accordingly. What better way to foster engagement but by letting it come to you?