(This piece generally represents the text of a letter sent to some of our firm’s leadership coaching clients this week.)
Too often I see HR professionals and the organizations they are apart of throwing around the expression, “employee engagement” like medical terms used by healthcare professionals, without first clarifying what the term means, and why it might be relevant to their audience. Truth be known I’ve been guilty of the same at times… but not this time:-) Still, on the premise that most of us tend to do more of the things that are important to us, and as we get deeper into our coaching engagement, I wanted to take another pass at reminding you why this matters (or should matter) to you.
When you get past the jargon, employee engagement simply represents the degree of adhesion (stickiness if you will) between an individual and their work, their job, their boss, their employer. It is an amalgam of factors that causes them to want to stay, and (usually) to contribute more via the exercise of discretionary effort. And why does that matter?
Motivated People Move Faster
Former Continental Airlines CEO, Gordon Bethune, when speaking of his previous job as an aircraft mechanic, once said… “Do you know how much faster and better I can fix that plane when I want to than when I don’t?” Mr. Bethune’s suggestion applies to all of us. Well researched studies suggest that the lack of adhesion or engagement costs the U.S. about $550 billion annually in lost productivity, or 2.5% of a $22 trillion economy. When turned to advantage, the trickle-down effect at a unit level is equally significant, as your team accomplishes more, in less time, with less friction. Simply put, people accomplish more when they want to. Motivated people move faster.
They Call ‘Em Talent Magnets For a Reason
Word gets around faster than ever today about all kinds of things, certainly to include the reputation of organizations and individuals as a place or person to work for/with. For proof, just take a look at GlassDoor.com. Unprompted by me, I’ve had conversations with each of you about the criticality of filling vacant positions in your organization. While you do not control every aspect of the employment relationship, pay for example, your reputation as a leader precedes you, and it carries considerable weight in a person’s desire to be part of your team. I will submit that your efforts to get (and remain) fully staffed with top caliber people will be benefited considerably by the tailwind caused by your reputation as a leader.
So, as we progress (and we are making progress) toward building more solid relationships with our teammates thru things like better listening, “un-bossing”, having courageous conversations, and taking greater interest in their development, let’s keep our eyes on the prize(s).
I greatly look forward to working with each of you in the New Year. Let’s get on with it!