Engagement is needed from everyone for success – employees, customers, dealers, partners and the organization. The inset definition clearly shows that engagement can mean a lot of different things. And while April is Bob’s and my anniversary month, I do not consider myself any kind of expert on a formal agreement to get married. I am also routinely late, so understanding an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time is not up my alley either. And my Mom always reminded me while growing up that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Therefore, just the mention of a fight or battle leads me to want to quit writing about that type of engagement. So, the only definition left is the action of engaging. We all know I believe ACTION is the key to everything so engagement when it means action is right up my alley. To be engaged is to be fully absorbed and enthusiastic to the point one is easily and innately self-motivated to do the positive action needed for success.
A recent Gallup study indicated that when their clients actively pursued engagement, success soared to a ratio of 9:1 from 2:1, engaged to unengaged. Perhaps that’s why engagement’s use in the inset graph is moving up.
If engagement is so crucial to success, why do organizations pursue it so ineffectively? The answer is that becoming actively engaged is hard work—work that many cannot see affecting their bottom line on any kind of a time line. With this in mind, engagement as a successful business strategy takes a major commitment to ensure all (yes all) of the following exist:
- Belief in the organizational vision and the success it will provide from every angle of the organization, but especially from the top,
- Trust that is built by trusting others. This requires a basic belief in people, a belief that people are essentially trustworthy,
- Accountable performance measures,
- Communication that aligns actions with the overall business goals,
- An effective recognition and reward system that involves verbal and/or written acknowledgment as well as a physical reward,
- Frequent, clear and specific feedback that focuses on what is being done well and what needs improvement,
- Leaders who are personally interested in and care about their team, and who elicit their input and opinions,
- Team work,
- An inclusive passion for WOWingness (internal & external).
Engagement is needed from everyone for success, but don’t diminish your role as the leader. Consultant Keith Ayers stresses that the role of great leaders is to get people excited about and committed to their organization’s vision. He explains: “Leaders are either increasing engagement, or they are decreasing it. There is no middle ground.” Don’t let yourself get stuck in the middle!