Leaders in Engagement

I was reading a great article a few weeks ago about engagement and it really made me think about how engagement is viewed in businesses, small and large.

I thought back over my career and the opportunities that I have had to give feedback and; as a result; the statistic of me as engaged or disengaged.  As a colleague I was encouraged to give my feedback, actively targeted as a person that needs to be engaged.  This changed when I became a manager. 

Instead of being the person that should be engaged I became the person who should be engaging others.  I still had the opportunity to give feedback but I wasn’t encouraged in the same way as when I was a colleague on the shop floor.

I started to think about why.  Why was my feedback and engagement assumed as a given once I was a manager? Once you are a manager does that mean you are automatically engaged with the business? Not necessarily.   And even with this lack of knowledge I was put in charge of engaging others and encouraging them to give the business feedback.

‘Engagement’ and its measurement in many businesses is a management task.  It’s something that comes around once a year and in a flurry of letters, emails, text messages and meetings the manager is expected to prove that their team are happy.  They are also likely to be targeted on engagement performance.

Whats the point?

The huge missing piece of any engagement program is the leadership team; from the CEO through to your first line managers.  If engagement is low then how can you possibly improve engagement on the front line?

Before completing any work on mass employee engagement, analyse your senior team.  In an ideal world they should be your highest performing, highly engaged colleagues.  Generally speaking, a highly engaged leadership team is more likely to recruit and develop the best next level managers because they live and breathe the company values and show a real passion for the business, this naturally rubs off on others and is in some ways contagious.  Once you have these levels recruited and actively engaged you will see a filter through of engaged managers until that flows into your general workforce, whether you are a CEO recruiting their first employee or head of a multi national business, the principles are the same. 

People who are actively engaged will search for and attract actively engaged colleagues with a similar sense of purpose and aligned goals.

In the real world it is unlikely that you will be able to have a very simple stream of recruiting similarly passionate people at the same time, life just isn’t like that.  So it’s really important to regularly check how your colleagues are feeling, from the heights of the board room to the reality of the shop floor, no one should be exempt and everybody should be focused on ensuring that everything that can be done to generate an actively engaged team is being done.

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* Image courtesy of Dilbert.com