Building Employee Engagement into Leadership Systems
by Steve Miller, Skills and Insights
How do we improve employee engagement? The IQC touches over 30,000 associate members in our great state; 110+ companies. When asking them about leadership challenges; one of the most frequently occurring responses we get is: Employee Engagement. When asking ‘why’ it is such a challenge, we get two most frequently occurring possible causes.
- We are not sure how to best go about it
- We are not sure who is ultimately responsible
Whose responsibility is it? Is it Human Resources? Is it the supervisors on the front lines? I have taught programs where the message was, “it is the individual themselves who is responsible for their own engagement as an employee.” Now maybe we are getting somewhere. Even the most self-directed, positive employees still struggle with engagement. Have you had a conversation like this with your peers or leaders? What can we do about it?
“People” are one of the five principles in W. Edwards Deming’s Theory of Profound Knowledge. Under the People principle, one of the key attributes is, you guessed it, Workforce Engagement. When looking at employee engagement as part of a process that is built into a system, a different and more effective means of approaching this challenge becomes apparent. It does require a different way of thinking about it.
Let’s use an analogy from football. At the games end the crowd views the scoreboard. We want to see who won. A good consultant will ask you and your employees, “How do you know if you are winning?” We may say, “We look at our score cards and our metrics. How well do your front line employees understand the metrics you use? How well can they describe where the job they do daily is reflected in your metrics? Can they explain in good detail how the job they do daily impacts the bottom-line? If they cannot explain it accurately, there is need and opportunity to improve engagement. This is like the Linebacker from our football analogy who gets seven tackles and four quarterback sacks, not being able to define for you, what a tackle and a sack means and how it relates to the numbers on the score board. They played a great game, yet do not understand how their daily activity is quantified or the impact it has towards our quality outcome. After all, we did win! Employee feedback from engagement surveys frequently reports, “Explain metrics in terms I can understand.” “Help me understand as an individual and as part of a team.”
Data measurements are a basis of identifying the effectiveness of our system. One key process driver of the system’s effectiveness will always be People. Key chains with the company logo are nice. Yet if you really want to drive engagement in a positive direction do this; sit down with the data and metrics and help employees understand how and where the job they do daily makes a difference on the big bottom-line score board.
Skills and Insights