There’s a direct line between levels of employee engagement and service/quality, productivity, innovation, safety, revenue, profitability, and other key results. That’s well documented, and most leaders strongly agree.
Where agreement falls apart is how to boost engagement levels. Some leaders feel that running organizational surveys and giving that aggregated data to managers will somehow get them to improve engagement. Like getting data on our weight from an annual doctor visit, little changes if we keep doing the same things.
Other leaders try organizational solutions like flex hours, onsite daycare, social activities, better benefits, senior leadership visibility, boosting interactions such as town hall meetings, etc. Yet a steady stream of studies show employee engagement is stagnating or declining. Leaders keep doing the same things while hoping for different results.
The data on employee engagement is overwhelming and very clear; the biggest factor — by far — is the immediate manager. It’s become a truism in the organization/leadership development field — people join an organization, but quit their boss.
Some people quit and leave. But most team members quit — and stay. This is especially true if pay, benefits, pensions, and the organizational perks are good. Numerous studies show that 60 to 70 percent of engagement levels are directly determined by the team member’s boss. That’s the heart of the engagement problem.
Last month I delivered a 45-minute webinar overview of the key elements in leadership effectiveness that determines outcomes like engagement. This was followed by insightful participant questions and discussion. Click on The Leading Edge: Transforming Good Managers into Great Leaders to watch the archived webinar with Q & A. This fast-paced session covered:
- Shift Happens
- Three Critical Change Choices
- Harnessing People Power to Lift Performance
- Timeless Leadership Principles
- Pivot Points: The Power of Building Strengths
We were hired to help an organization shift its culture toward higher performance. Quality and service, productivity, and other results were good but not great. During a focus group with frontline team members to assess their current culture, participants weren’t participating. Finally, someone spoke up, “Jim, I think you’re confusing us with people who care.”
Strong leaders engage and inspire people to care.