The best way to connect an organization’s strategy to extraordinary results is a straight line – via the people in the organization. Let’s face it. Machines can’t be solely relied upon to produce profit. Facilities don’t generate revenues. And even with all its power, the web is rarely an un-attended, minimally-designed source of cash into the company.
The real deal
People are the critical element of revenue and profit generation. They innovate. They design. They produce. They distribute. They provide customer service.
And people have choices about how they show up to work each day. They can merely attend and anxiously await quitting time. Or, they can show up, comply with what’s needed, and promptly depart when they’ve finished their required work, usually by 5:00. Or, they can enthusiastically connect to their work, occasionally invest discretionary time, and be constantly thinking about better ways to do their job and satisfy the company’s customers.
I think most of us leaders would agree that it’s the third option we want. And the great news is that it’s not expensive to get – in terms of either money, or time. It’s a collection of leadership methods and principles, many of which are already known to leaders, but not necessarily executed in the throes of day to day priorities. What we’re looking for is engagement. And it can be created by leaders actively engaging employees.
Benefits of engagement
The benefits of a leader’s choice for engagement spread far and wide. Engaged workers benefit the profitability of an organization. A formal engagement strategy helps develop employee skills and perspectives. It improves their quality of work life. It creates a distinct competitive advantage for retaining top talent – especially upcoming Gen Y talent. It benefits those areas, and much more, putting an almost palpable feeling to the excitement people exhibit each day when they come to work.
One Engagement “Home Run”
As I sat down across the desk of the Manufacturing VP at the high-tech firm that was about to select a consultant from a pool of six firms, I asked lots of questions and jotted down notes. The VP told me that that the high-tech industry was currently in the boom part of one of its historic boom-bust cycles. And she had a serious problem. The plant was producing far less than its capacity, and this meant they would not have the ability to capitalize on the current high tech boom cycle. Which meant that, as things go in the semiconductor world of high capital equipment costs, during the next "bust" cycle, they might need to close their doors. Simply because they hadn't harvested the necessary cash during the boom cycle. An engagement strategy brought the company to record revenue levels within three weeks of its inception. More...
Research shows that engagement makes a measurable difference
Is this “engagement thing” just about making employees feel good, and connected to their work, which, in turn, one may logically assume would have a positive affect on performance? No. It’s not merely a logical argument, though the logical argument certainly makes sense. There’s also hard data to support the benefits engagement.
A 2010 global research study conducted by McKinsey & Co. identified four success factors for organizational transformations: cocreation, collaboration, and employee engagement . The Gallup Organization has extensively studied the benefits of employee engagement, and the costs of not engaging employees. In 2010 they reported that their research showed that disengaged workers cost the economy $300 billion.
The dollars associated with engagement are not trivial. And as Everett Dirksen– a politician from my home state of Illinois who neither became president nor was indicted by a federal grand jury – was once attributed to saying, “A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
And in my own personal experience, by increasing engagement levels at a bank, in conjunctions with making some other changes that the engagement enabled, the client was able to increase loan output 250% within an 18-month period – with the same headcount, and same people that were they before they started!
Areas for high-leverage from engagement
On this website I’m providing some concrete examples and tips about where engagement can be used, and how to do it effectively. One perspective we’ll explore: specific leadership actions available for a leader who wants to do engagement well. We’ll cover pragmatic tips like distributing decision-making with relevant guidelines, tapping into employee motivation factors like local goal-setting and the sense of achievement , and using questions to gather diverse perspectives to enhance performance.
A second perspective of engagement we’ll explore is the use of existing, proven group methods that engage people to tackle tough issues. I’ve found group methods to be particularly useful in the following areas:
- direction setting
- day-to-day operations execution
- continuous improvement
- organization restructuring
- change management
So go ahead and try out some engagement tactics. See how they can help your organization get quick results that many people buy into, enhance your employees’ quality of work life, and accelerate your way up your career path based on the business benefits you can provide via engagement.
You have options for starting out. You might just want to try it out on a single case, instead of launching an all out engagement program. Single events can be quite beneficial, as my high tech client who increased annual revenues from $200 million to $525 million through just one engagement project. Or the bank where they increased productivity by 250% within 18 months. From there you might want to take it to the next level, and begin to involve people as a habit, instead of for a special event. Either way, you’ll have some information and resources provided on this site to help you out in your journey. And for additional assistance, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you success in your efforts to connect strategy to people to extraordinary results.