Let's Get Engaged (and watch business soar)

There’s a good reason why the thing that comes before a wedding is called the ‘engagement’. That’s because engagement is the first sign of serious commitment. But just how engaged are your people, really? Chances are you might think they are fully engaged…but in reality, most people are just showing up for work because they have to.

Changing this situation isn’t easy, but it is high stakes: get it right, and watch your business soar.

Checking out the available research on Employee Engagement delivers consistent results: Australians are largely disengaged at work (over the course of several years, there have been over 4,500 responses to an  ‘Engagement Capability’ survey which I have been part of, and confirmed exactly that.)

What’s also emerged from available research is that those companies with high levels of engagement outperform all others on every commercial metric. The traits common to these organisations include:

  • oso dot point  A clear sense of purpose.
  • oso dot point  Meaningful KPIs.
  • oso dot point  A distinct, well-managed culture.

With ‘true believers’ few and far between, what can be done to drive up engagement? Firstly, remember the adage that ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you can expect to get what you’ve always got’. The search for better business performance won’t be found by having the same conversations or doing the same things, but more of them.

It’s all about Purpose

Driving up engagement depends primarily on establishing Purpose in your people. While essential, set aside Vision or Mission; when every individual comes to work with a PURPOSE, the combined commitment becomes the single most important foundation upon which to build your business.

A recent paper released by Harvard Business School Analytic Services showed that while 90 percent of executives surveyed said their company understands the importance of such purpose, only 46 percent said it informs their strategic and operational decision-making. Purpose matters! But executives are struggling to put it to work.

Think about it: everyone has those existential questions of ‘Why are we here? What are we doing? What do we believe in?’ I do. So do you. This is what drives us – and good, clear answers to these questions will go a long way towards attracting like-minded people.

So just how well-defined are the answers to those questions?

Are the answers codified in clear KPIs which are communicated to and understood by your team members? Experience says the likelihood that this is the case is pretty slim.

And here’s the kicker: without that set of meaningful KPIs, made relevant to every individual, engagement is going to suffer. Too many employees don’t know how they are measured and rewarded. They haven’t got a set of KPIs which help track whether they are living their purpose.

What about culture, then?

Defining and developing a culture depends on a lot more than a set of adjectives. It has to extend ‘off the page’ to demonstrable behaviours (and culture always starts at the top). It is necessary to spend time and effort to fully get to grips with the values and behaviours you want to be alive in your business. Storytelling, the language you instil, the examples you set in everything from how you look to how you engage with others, all contributes to culture. It’s ‘the way we do things around here.’

Make the time to invest in (re)defining your purpose, culture and the way you measure and manage performance.  Ready to drive better engagement? If so, your business could be in for a big boost.

Chris Pezzimenti