A DecisionWise client recently told me, “I feel that this is the one big barrier I am facing – the senior management team finding the time to really understand the importance of their role in workforce engagement.”
Two issues stand out from this concern: executives finding the time to participate in engagement initiatives and understanding their role in improving the well-being of their employees. These words imply that leaders view engagement as “something they have to do.” Engagement is thought of as another metric or task, a strategic plan, or a line-item on a budget – but engagement is none of these.
Engagement is the discretionary effort given to a job; it comprises your heart, hands, and mind. Being engaged is something you are, something you feel, a way of working, and a philosophy that guides how you act every day.
At DecisionWise, we are in the final stages of developing a cutting-edge employee engagement survey reporting tool for our clients. In designing this new system, we’ve constantly reminded ourselves that the purpose of this new tool is not just to show the numbers in a new way. The purpose is to clearly and succinctly tell the story of the company, a department, or a team – the story that allows a leader to quickly understand how his or her team is feeling: what’s working and what’s not. Our overall objective is to help leaders know how to better engage their teams so they can create a culture of feedback that is central to engagement.
When leaders understand that engagement is not something you “do” or something you check off a list, then finding the time and understanding their role is easy. In fact, the DecisionWise benchmark database indicates that those in senior-leader positions are typically the most engaged of all job roles within an organization. Why? Because senior leaders are known to embody the key elements of employee engagement:
- Senior leaders find meaning in what they do;
- They have the autonomy to make changes and improvements as they see fit;
- They experience growth and are stretched in their job assignments;
- They feel the impact of their decisions on the entire company; and,
- They connect with other leaders and employees on a personal level.
Not only do the words meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection form a nice acronym (MAGIC), but also these words repesent the five factors that are tantamount to employee engagement. These factors are critical not only to someone on the management team, but also to the front-line employee. Bombardier CEO, Pierre Beaudoin, told his managers, “We need employees to understand we are flying people, not planes.” Managers of all levels need to understand that they are engaging people, not manipulating data. Employee responses represent people: their voice, their story – not just data points on a nice graph.