This morning I had the privilege of attending an Executive Breakfast that focused on employee engagement and what that actually means. It was a timely discussion because I hear the phrase employee engagement in just about every explanation of what’s wrong with an organization. But what is it really? What does employee engagement mean and why is it important to your business? Here’s what I learned.
Engagement encourages individuality
Employee engagement is as individual as each of your staff members. Everyone is motivated by different things and the key to a successful engagement strategy is the recognition that what you want is not what everyone else wants. You have to get to know your staff on a personal level and find out what motivates that person individually. Some people want that corner office, some want the ability to leave when their family needs them, and some just want money. Before they can engage, you have to engage and figure out what makes them tick.
Engagement is strategic
This sounds terrible, but like any good business strategy engagement has to have a direction. Simply put you have to know what you want and how you want people to get there before you can engage them. The best part of engagement comes from the support that your staff will provide once they are engaged. If you want an engaged workforce you have to provide your staff with a map, tools and the ability to navigate to the goal.
There will be blood
I say this facetiously, but the cold hard truth is that there will be casualties on your road to engagement. The point though is that unlike other strategies, engagement forces you to have the hard conversations that reveal whether someone is in tune with your organization’s objectives or pursuing their own. You can’t be an engaged organization without the support of your staff and your staff cannot be engaged if they are pursuing their own agendas.
Engagement has to be a common language
Communication is the key to any healthy relationship and just about any dysfunctional relationship can recover when you learn how to communicate. Engaging employees is no different. You have to speak your employee’s language and that means that you have explain your objectives in a way that brings the goal into their world. It has to mean something to them, in terms that are important to them not you.
Engagement can sometimes be elusive and sometimes very simple, I have no answer on how to solve that. What I do know is that what worked for another company won’t work for you. The beauty of engagement is that it is deeply personal to your company and that is what makes engagement work.