Concentrate on the basics of good leadership and management, not on your engagement scores.
Previous posts have argued that
- High employee engagement does not cause high productivity
- Engagement is becoming a cult and wise leaders will not pay too much attention to it
- Leaders should concentrate on business results and employee engagement is not a business result, it is an input
Given that I’ve been so critical of measuring employee engagement, what do I advocate instead of engagement scores and action planning to increase your engagement scores?
If your organisation is hooked on engagement scores, then middle managers probably have no choice but to comply and go through the motions of completing the questionnaires. And there is no doubt that there is a lot of political advantage in scoring well in the surveys.
If you are the leader of your organisation, think very carefully about your implementation of engagement surveys. As you know, what you measure is what people focus on. Do you want your people to concentrate on inputs or results? Engagement surveys will make your line managers and support groups (e.g. HR, admin, finance, legal, communications) focus on inputs because that’s what you are measuring. Engagement surveys will concentrate your line managers on inputs and you risk diverting their attention from the things that matter – your business results.
Unfortunately the magic bullet is not magic and it is not a bullet.
Let the good old basics prevail. It is simple, but it is not easy. Implementation is all. Concentrate on the results you are trying to achieve, keep talking to your people about their performance along with what you are trying to achieve, and your progress together towards your objectives. Concrete progress towards business success stimulates and excites people to keep going in that direction. As they achieve business results, engagement scores will take care of themselves. This is the converse of what the engagement brigade would tell you.
The emperor really has no clothes. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the cult of engagement. Instead, stay focused on your results, keep in contact with your people as they progress, help them to overcome obstacles where necessary and provide recognition of achievements.
By the way, this is heresy in the prevailing ways of thinking in the public sector in New Zealand.