Get with it for more robust employee engagement
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I frequently see three different approaches to employee engagement. In the first approach employee engagement it something the organization does to employees. In the second approach employee engagement is something done for employees. In the third approach employee engagement is something done with employees.
Here is a brief outline of each approach.
TO: In this approach employees often experience the organization’s approach as something being done to them to get them to work harder and longer. Levers are pulled and drivers are pushed to get more discretionary effort. Organizations go in search of the secrets of engagement or hope to plug another organization’s best case into their operations without having to do anything else. This is a mechanical approach and engagement is a method used to get more productivity with a failure to ensure engagement is a benefit to all. Senior leadership and even many managers may fail to fully acknowledge that they are also employees. This approach may cause iatrogenic disengagement when employees are cynical of the organization’s motives and sometimes see the statement “employees are our greatest resource” paired with a lack to transparency and a lack of ethical integrity.
FOR: This approach is paternalistic in nature. The organization will look after employees. Brady Wilson from Juice Inc. has done some excellent work differentiating parenting from partnering in the workplace. This approach often fails to involve employees in their own engagement, engagement data is not readily shared with everyone and sometimes the organizations seems at a loss when employees did not get on the bus failing to realize that many employees want to drive themselves or they may even prefer to walk. Employees are asked in surveys about their opinions and attitudes but are seldom drawn fully into conversations about engagement. Engagement data is not readily shared nor is it transparent. In this approach there is frequent reference to buy-in as leaders are transformed into sellers while employees are viewed as buyers or consumers of engagement. Engagement is seen as a problem to be solved rather than an experience to be lived.
WITH: In this approach employee engagement is co-created with employees. Two of my favorite lines that demonstrate this are “never do anything about me without me” and “if you want everyone on the same page you need to give them an opportunity to write on that page.” Employees are seen as authentic partners and their input may even begin with the organization asking them to help formulate any engagement questions used in surveys or data collection. Engagement is much less about a program or initiative and more about the verb of engage being infused into how we lead, manage, and work. There is a lack of any sense of victims, villains, and helplessness in the organization. Employees are responsible for their own engagement while everyone is accountable for their influence and impact on the engagement of everyone else. Employee engagement is truly viewed and approached as being a benefit for all.
If you want to be successful with employee engagement in 2015 don’t you think it is time to get with it?
David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and educator who is working more and more on with!