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How Engaged Is Your Team?
(And why your engagement survey won't tell you)
Take a moment and reflect on your conversations this week. How engaged do you think your team and peers are, right now?
How do you know? And more importantly, does it even matter?
The word ‘engagement’ has become commonplace in business. And when you think of it perhaps words like happiness, feeling valued, or having a sense of achievement come to mind.
Naturally, no one wants to work somewhere that’s miserable, or where energy is low.
Morale, happiness, and a general sense of satisfaction are generally good things.
But the term that we’ve come to describe all these things - employee engagement - has become a buzzword and a process that overlooks what’s at the heart of the matter.
In my 20 years and having interviewed 1,000+ candidates for leadership or HR roles during that time I have never once been asked about the company’s engagement score.
What people do want to know is what it’s like to work for you, what makes it a great business, how you’ll support them in their careers and achieve their goals.
That’s what matters, to employees at least.
And as much as the folk who make millions in the industry built around measuring employee engagement will tell you otherwise, it doesn’t need to be complicated (or expensive).
So, this week, to help you get a sense of what engagement means to you and your business, read on:
Reflect: Reflect on this and ask yourself, what does engagement mean to you as a leader?
Define: From their research, Great Place To Work® suggests that the following are good drivers of an engaged team:
Skills training and professional development opportunities
Clear career progression plan and achievement milestones
Managers who provide constructive feedback, solicit feedback and listen to employees’ needs and aspirations
Managers that appropriately distribute workloads and recognize and reward outstanding employees
Work environments that give employees the freedom to work in the way that’s best for them
This is a generic list, so think about your business. Start with a blank sheet of paper and as a Board, answer these three questions.
What are the drivers of an engaged team in your business?
How do you know?
What will tell you if you have it?
Talk and listen: If your business is losing customers by the second you don’t look at your annual customer satisfaction survey to find out why.
You talk to your customers, find out what’s going on with them, get close, and understand where they’re at. You ask them how they are, and what’s going on in their world, and make time to listen.
The same goes for employees. You don’t need a survey to really listen to your team and find out what’s going on with them on a single day in a year.
What two questions could you and your peers ask regularly, to check in with your team and get a sense of how they are?
Analyse: If you already have an engagement system in place, overlay your business performance data with your engagement scores.
Do both track in the same direction and with a similar correlation?
What insight can you draw?
Get personal: An annual survey will give you an expensive one-time snapshot of how people feel on a given day. By the time it has been analysed and presented it is likely weeks or months out of date.
Instead, on each occasion you meet your team try following these three steps:
“How are you feeling about work on a scale of 1-10?”
Write it down each time. After a week or a month, tally up the scores and calculate a rough average for each person.
Let’s say that most of your team averages a 7/10. Share with them what you noticed and ask if it feels accurate. If so, explore with them what would have made it a 10/10. What would have been different? What would they like more of or less of?
Act: Research by Gallup shows that only 8% of employees agree that their organization takes action as a result of their employee surveys. Whether or not this stems from action not taken or action not communicated is unclear, but for your team, the perspective will be the same.
Where are you not taking responsibility for something that could influence a positive change for your team?
Who do you need to engage with to initiate it?
What could you communicate to your team, right now?
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