Thursday, December 10, 2015

Have You Dropped the Engagement Ball?

Surveys are not the be-all and end-all of employee engagement.  As senior leadership we often put HR or a third party administrator in charge of the end to end process when the entire leadership team needs to be invested in employee engagement.  Surveys provide perspective, but do not provide a full picture of the engagement levels in your company or the beliefs and behavior that drive your employees, as the survey is too narrow in focus.

Surveys are retrospective in nature and are not-forward looking.  To make matters worse, we as senior leadership often lack follow through on our learning from the survey, causing our employees to feel further demoralized - "management doesn't care what I think" or "why should I submit ideas - management doesn't listen anyway.”  I have heard employees echo these sentiments time and time again.  We as leadership, may tackle surface issues that have the largest gap in measurement – those short-term issues that are an easy fix – but we often struggle with the deeper cultural issues that require long-range planning.

A secondary issue is the accuracy of engagement surveys.  As I mentioned above, it is common for our employees to believe that management won’t take action on the issues or our employees see the survey as unhelpful and time wasting.   Our employees then either bias their answers or don’t participate in the survey at all – which results in inflation of engagement results.  Remember anybody can check off a box on a survey – the real test is your employees’ behavior that drives organizational outcomes.

Engagement of our employees is not an item on a to-do list or a nice to have.  Engagement must integrate into the fabric of our organizations.  The first step is to make sure your management team, at all levels, is properly trained on engagement.  Management is often promoted due to technical skills, not their people skills.  Our managers need to be trained on relationship building and to communicate on the proper things.

The second step is to really dive in and get to know your employees.  I know you’ve heard it before.  Get out of your office and into their environment.  Learn what matters to your employees. Think about your own job and how you connect it to what matters most in your life.  Talk and actively listen to your employees, get to know their fears, understand their concerns, and learn about their families.  Get to the heart of their experiences, for that drives their behavior.  Get to know those shades of grey you just can’t get from a survey.  Only then can we as leadership truly connect and ‘engage’ with our employees.

Finally, create a five year rolling plan with a few realistic, yet achievable set objectives for each year based on what you learn from your employees. Only by changing the dialogue in your organization from top down to bi-directional with your employees can you truly drive your organization forward to the next level.

Idea Share Tip of the Month!

Create a culture of transparency where mistakes are freely talked about and you will understand better how to address problems.  Employee interviews with an unaffiliated professional may be effective to understand the reality of your operating environment.

Sign up for the Idea Share Tip of the Week! at Frame of Mind Consulting

Frame of Mind Consulting understands the unique DNA of your organization, which is necessary to turn any organization into one capable of leveraging the full idea potential of its employees. Would you like to drive connectivity and ownership throughout your company?  Contact Page at (860) 559-7942 to set up your complimentary consultation during which you will receive some invaluable tips that you can apply to your business right away.


  1. Good article, Page. It all comes down to relationships.

  2. Success keeps coming back to engaging with the employee, doesn't it. Not surveys, not the wording in the company handbook, but real people.