Saturday, July 11, 2015

Employee Engagement Strategy: Does it Work

At the age of digital, businesses today need nothing less than a paradigm shift in their thinking about the fundamentals of how organizations work to build an engaging workforce.

Statistically, less than one-third of employees feel engaged in the work, what’re the root causes to the low employee engagement, and what’s your strategy (that actually works) to do something about it?

The top culprits on low employee engagement are: (1) poor communication, from the top down. (2) perceived absence of development opportunities or career prospects and (3) lack of healthy culture such as fairness, innovation, learning, etc. There are obvious variances, but the pattern is similar. (4) lack of great leadership. Often top down command-control management fails, because lacking methods for helping front line managers perform better as leaders. Without such methods, too many of the unprepared and untrained front-line managers will "do their best" and fail as they've always failed, through no fault of their own.


So management needs to value engagement over empire-building. Hopefully, the implementation includes sufficient room for innovation to reflect the real needs of the organizational systems. Have you considered or experimented with handing the problem to the team and letting them figure it out? If you want a bottom-up solution, ASK for it. Managers at all levels need to have integrity for this to work, be truly committed to their team’s success, and be willing to let their teams do the work. This comes from the top, the communication regarding integrity and commitment to the people starts at the top. Though trust is the two-way street to build relationship across all parties.


The bottoms-up engagement of personnel should be part of your annual strategy review. Whichever strategy mapping tool you use (such as the balanced scorecard), this creates an annual opportunity to ensure personnel is not only being engaged but their focus on energy aligned with the organizational strategy. It offers not only the opportunity for the intended bottom line performance improvements but also better performance management because of performance review with employees based on the business needs and strategy. Because they feel part of the business intelligence and solution, it creates better buy-in and overall employee satisfaction.

Reimagine the fundamentals of how organizations work. Leadership who listens well and provides ample room for the job development and a leadership who actively partners with HR to develop and promote a clear, simple plan for career progression sounds almost too simplistic, but it is indeed the most efficient and inexpensive route to higher employee engagement. Also, the reality is that the organizational structures and relationships with and between employees were designed for a very different age. It's not just a leadership/ management issue; most organizations are grossly dysfunctional, despite often noble attempts at change by the leadership team. More often, workers are asked to be "engaged" inside and outside the company environment, at the same time, many companies don't have the mechanisms or interest in engaging employees outside the work environment to enable personal growth, and implementing a methodology that teaches people how to use their strengths, and the strengths of others in the organization is necessary to get employees engaged.


At the age of digital, businesses today need nothing less than a paradigm shift in their thinking about the fundamentals of how organizations work and well tune the structure to build an engaging workforce. Don’t make the rules or structure too restrictive, and leave the room for management innovation, to strike the right balance between orders (structure) and "chaos (sparking innovation), between team setting and cross-functional communication and collaboration; between "old way" and new way to do things, in order to improve employee engagement and overall business maturity.


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