You want your employees engaged in their work? Absolutely! And because they are engaged your company will achieve its intended results? Not exactly!
“Intuitively most managers know that that it’s better to have engaged employees,” says Dr. Dan Denison, co-founder of the Denison Organizational Culture Survey. “But measuring employee engagement alone is not enough. Employees can be happy, satisfied and engaged, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are supporting the business goals of the organization.” Some companies may have satisfied employees, but fall short of meeting bottom-line results.
Employee engagement, according to Denison, is “the extent to which people feel a sense of physical, cognitive, and emotional attachment to their work.” Research by Denison Consulting, culled from more than 4,000 organizations around the world, shows that such engagement “may be more a result of good performance than a cause.”
To draw an analogy to the sports world, the buzz that fan feel when their team wins is akin to the enthusiasm that employees feel when their company prospers. Such enthusiasm keeps fans coming back to watch the team or buy more team merchandise just as this spirit helps employees feel more connected and committed to their work. But just as buzz is not enough to help a team win, it is not enough to help a company succeed.
“If you’re concerned about business outcomes, it makes more sense to measure and manage the organization as a system,” says Denison, also a professor of management at the International Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Denison Organizational Culture Survey measures culture in four ways: mission, consistency, adaptability and involvement. Those factors influence corporate performance and determine bottom-line results. Managers concerned about engagement – as well as results – can take a cue from Denison by asking themselves and their teams these four questions:
What’s our job and why? It is not enough to do your job. It is up to the manger to let you know the why and wherefores of your job. That is, if you are in accounting, how you manage accounts receivable and payable affects not just the balance sheet but profitability short-term and long. It may mean the difference between growth or contraction, acquiring or being acquired, hiring or lay-offs, or bonus or no bonus. Knowing what you do (the mission) and how it contributes to the whole organization is critical.
Are we consistent in our work? Quality counts. Whether your business generates products or produces services, your customers have high expectations that it will meet their needs. Often not just for today, but for tomorrow, too. The manager who can keep her team focused on doing the task right as well as efficiently will ensure consistency.
Are we flexible and responsive? Operating 24/7 in a global environment may sound cool, but it exacts a huge toll. You must be on your toes all of the time. Life is change, and even though we may resist it from time to time, processes and procedures evolve and just as people do. Demand for services changes. The manager who can keep his team flexible and responsive – that is, adaptable – can help his organization achieve its intended results.
How connected do we feel? Involvement is essential to team, yes. People want to feel part of something larger, but they also want to know that management cares about them as contributors. This does not mean the you see “Kumbaya” at lunch, but it does mean that the organization provides training and development as well as resources. It also values contributions and recognizes people for their accomplishment. When this occurs, work matters and people want to keep on performing.
Ideally, following these four steps will keep your department more aligned to corporate strategies. However, anyone who has worked for an organization larger than three people knows how mission and intention can drift apart. We fail to stay aligned because we get caught up in day-to-day minutiae or crises that cause us to lose focus.
That’s why it is valuable to monitor employee engagement. We want employees who want to be working with us, not against us. We also want employees willing to exert the extra effort when necessary. But engagement does not come from good intentions; it comes from delivering solid results that give people a reason to believe in their leaders as well as their company.
Ken Stockton “Big Business Buzz Builds About Employee Engagement, But Expert Tells Firms to Focus on Culture, Human Capital, Bottom-line Results” Denison News 10.10.07 www.denisonconsulting.com
John Baldoni • Leadership Expert: Executive Coach/Author/Speaker • Baldoni Consulting, LLC • www.johnbaldoni.com