12 Oct Corporate Engagement
Why many organizations struggle to create and sustain a vibrant and robust workplace
Everyone desires corporate engagement
Without any exception, all organizations crave to have an engaged workforce.
Everyone understands that you can’t have dead-beat people and, at the same time, lively organization. They’re mutually exclusive…
It is obvious. Without an engaged workforce, becoming profitable, staying relevant, and having a long-term, meaningful impact
is an uphill battle, if not impossible.
The need to create a vibrant and robust workplace
However, one can’t harvest an engaged workforce without planting and nurturing the right workplace environment.
Nonetheless, creating a vibrant and robust workplace is harder than you may think.
Here are a couple of not-so-obvious reasons:
- Thinking that we already have it. This is the most subtle of all other reasons. If one has the illusion of having something, they’ll never try to get it.
- Confusing participation with engagement. The problem with this perception is simple. Many leaders equate their people’s coming to work, achieving some acceptable results, and attending mandatory events and meetings as engagement. People can come and participate to earn a living. When people participate, they don’t go beyond the bare minimum. They don’t engage. They don’t go all-in…
- Stopping at creating engagement. Creating the right environment for corporate engagement is a good start. Sustaining engagement in and out of season is the challenge. It requires serious investment and demonstrating consistency.
- Doing it alone. Many leaders make the mistake of thinking that creating and nurturing a vibrant and robust culture is the sole responsibility of the top leadership. They put some rules and regulations in place to foster full engagement without the active engagement of their people throughout the organization. Here is what Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte, said: “When
employees join executives in truly owning the responsibility for business success, an exciting new sense of teamwork takes hold.”
Yes, some organizations may initiate engagement, which may last for a season. Unfortunately, they struggle to make it stick. They don’t get the full involvement of all stakeholders. They’re unable to create belongingness. When people buy into an initiative and feel like it is their baby, they do everything they can to make sure this initiative succeeds no matter what.
Questions that raise your awareness
- How many percent of your workforce is proactive and taking initiative? If the majority takes the initiative, you may have a genuinely engaged workforce that goes the extra mile. David Ducheyne– author and speaker, has a great point when he said: “Employee Engagement is about the willingness of people to be responsible for more than their own job. People who are engaged go the extra mile.”
- How many percentages of your people can’t wait to come on Monday and drag their legs to leave on Friday? If most people love to come and work in your workplace without needing too much motivation, manipulation, and scare tactics, you might have created an engaging work culture.
- Is your culture healthy? There is no true and genuine engagement if the culture is dysfunctional. High turnover, conflicts, backbiting, scapegoating, and so on are good indicators of a dysfunctional culture.
- Does your team perform continuously and beat its own past performance? At the end of the day, the measure of whether your workforce is engaged or not is RESULTS. You can’t survive, let alone thrive if you only have happy people who don’t deliver. However, you’ll continue to win if you have a highly motivated workforce that performs continually. Here is what Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, noted: “Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.”
On the other hand, a highly motivated and engaged workforce will continue to win even in hard times. They don’t easily give up even if they are experiencing a crisis or their boat capsizing. I like what Nigel Paine, broadcaster and author, remarked: “In the current volatile and uncertain environment, engaged employees are essential not just for success but perhaps for survival.”
Facilitated a two-day workshop on collaboration and engagement
I traveled in August to co-facilitate a two-day workshop with some of my colleagues. To protect the organization, I won’t mention its name and in which State and City the workshop was held.
The goal was to increase engagement and collaboration throughout the organization. Three themes were chosen to achieve this grand objective.
Before we delivered the workshop, some things didn’t go well at the design stage.
- The top leadership decided not to mix all its people. They preferred their people to be divided into three groups based on their leadership level: Executives, Middle leaders, and Line supervisors. It was a bit odd. You desire to increase engagement and collaboration, and then you don’t want to mix your people?! It wasn’t our preference, but we accommodated the client’s request.
- The two top leaders didn’t participate. The top leaders, for their credit, they approved this program. However, for whatever reason, at the last minute, the two top leaders were unable to participate. It was a huge setback. Some of the participants in my room had wished these leaders were part of the program. Mind you, these top leaders wanted this program. They sacrificed lots. The opportunity cost alone by removing their entire team from work for two days was huge. They also paid in thousands for it. But they didn’t show up when it mattered the most, when the team was trying to regroup and increase engagement and collaboration. How can you improve collaboration while your key decision makers aren’t part of the process to take their engagement to the next level? Possible but hard to achieve…
A couple of quick disclaimers:
- The top leaders might have missed the opportunity for a very strong reason. It could be something came up at the last minute and they must walk away from the program. Or they might be thinking that their absence would give their people the courage and freedom to speak their mind. I don’t know what happened! They only know the very real reason why they didn’t show up at the last minute.
- Segregating the organization’s leaders would have been very relevant if the goal was different. Dividing participants according to their leadership position wouldn’t have been a bad idea if the objective wasn’t increasing engagement and collaboration. Dividing people according to their stage of leadership is very relevant, for example, when we design and deliver cohort programs for emerging, middle, and senior leaders.
By the way, not just with this particular group. When I travel both within the US and abroad, many top leaders invite me to help them transform their executive leadership. In many cases, for whatever reason, at the last minute, they come up with an excuse not to be part of the program (s). Initially, when this kept happening, I thought these were just the groups I’d been working with.
However, after discussing this with some of my learning professional colleagues, I realized that some top leaders don’t want to appear as if they need growth. They don’t want to be vulnerable. And they don’t want to narrow the leadership distance between them and the leaders below them. For them, they got to the top alone and had to stay there alone.
In his book “Leadership Gold,” leadership guru- John C. Maxwell disagreed with the popular saying: “It’s lonely at the top.” He concluded: “If you are lonely at the top, then you are doing something wrong.”
Measures to increase collaboration and corporate engagements
That being said, here are a few measures you could take to increase collaboration and engagement:
- People are engaged when they find meaning in what they do. Give people opportunities to find personal meaning in what they do. Listen to what Janine N. Truitt, Chief Innovations Officer of Talent Think Innovations, remarked: “Employee engagement is the extent to which your employees feel connected to and motivated by the work that they do.” I understand that you may not have enough opportunities at your workplace for all your people to find meaning in what they do. However, you can be creative to create other outside opportunities, like giving them a fraction of the time they spend with you to volunteer for a cause that is close to their heart.
- Genuine engagement doesn’t happen without being intentional and proactive. Don’t autopilot it! Roll your sleeves up and lead by example- get involved yourself first. I’ve seen many well-meaning leaders interested in engaging their people, but they don’t want to make their hands dirty. They don’t intentionally take proactive steps to engage with their people. They stand on the sideline and expect magic to happen without their active involvement.
- Like everything worthy of having, true employee engagement requires investment. If it matters to your success, show it in practical terms. If it is your priority, invest in it! Ian Hutchinson, a motorcycle racer, once said: “Employee engagement is an investment we make for the privilege of staying in business.” No pain, no gain! You must invest. The level of time, energy, and resources you invest determines your people’s ultimate level of engagement. The ball is in your hands…
If you have any questions or would like us to design and deliver a half or full-day workshop or webinar on creating and sustaining collaboration and an engaging culture, please reach out to [email protected]