A fundamental axiom of management is that employee engagement is directly related to organizational success – with a corollary that the more management listens to employees and respects and embraces their input, the better employee engagement is. Certainly, there are many examples of an organization with good engagement that failed. The organization must be competent at more things than ensuring an engaged workforce.
But in the all other things being equal fantasy business land, a more engaged workforce is a more productive workforce. When management listens to employees’ ideas and discusses the actions recommended, it’s a win-win. Everyone learns, everyone grows. There is less chance for misalignment of purpose and direction.
Study after study documents the importance of employee engagement. The more competitive the marketplace is for talent, the more important employee engagement is. Global insurance/HR firm AON Hewitt defines engagement as a measure of “Say, Stay and Strive.” How likely are employees to Say great things about the company? How likely are employees to Stay and be part of the company? And how well does the company inspire them to Strive to do better?
But, the tendency is to focus on the technical aspects of what we do and less on the personal or interpersonal aspects. We do this at our own disadvantage. And yet there are many tools, training aids and assessments to assist us in this regard.
Steven Covey’s commandment to “seek first to understand then to be understood” has a major role to play in all of this. It is about listening and taking the time to understand and process the information. Not just hear, but really listen. Seeking to understand.
Question: How often do we take the time to step back and have a good dialog about how things are going in general and then ask some probing questions that require more than just a “fine” or “good” response?