Love these videos below on the problems with employee engagement surveys by Jason Lauritsen. His videos parallel the work of Tim Clark in his book The Employee Engagement Mindset. These videos reinforce my belief that employee enagagement survey results need to closely examined and grouped according engagement level to find information that benefits the organization.
I wrote below my thoughts on Timothy Clark's book, The Employee Engagement Mindset, before reading the book. Well, after reading it and using the material for my presentation at our manager's retreat, I firmly believe in the theory that an employee decides whether you engage them or not and that the 6 behavior drivers are what is being used to sustain engagement. Our managers left the retreat and contacted me later wanting me to give the presentation to their employees all the way down to the front line but pointed towards them. They interiorized the presentation and loved the surveys that were available. Now I have to buy more books!!
Our managers believe that this is our answer to our static engagement numbers. They insist that I share it with executives, which I had already set a date for. They had conversations about the different generations and the inability to understand them and how that section is very helpful.
I am looking forward to addressing our front line employees and pointing out the differences between a highly engaged employee and those that haven't decided plus those that are disengaged. I really like the data that shows how the highly engaged employees outperform undecided by 23% and the disengaged by 28%; amazing that the undecided are actually almost as bad as the disengaged. The quotes that Mr. Clark placed in the book were right on! Each one of those brought his thoughts and research to life. Thanks for doing such a great job.
Yesterday, I watched an interview of David Zinger from the Employee Engagement Network asking Tim Clark about his new book, The Employee Engagement Mindset, and his recent research for the book. Tim has a unique perspective with his past as a business manager and an academic in that he is approaching employee engagement as a personal responsibilty. After listening to the interview I left with some very clear thoughts on how to move forward in my responsibility of increasing engagement at my place of employment. Below is an excerpt from the interview that explains where Tim Clark went with his research.
Tim: We asked a survey question of 60 different organizations about five years ago. We asked them who is primarily responsible for employee engagement; is it the organization or is it the employee, and we were very surprised at the response that we got to that question. 60% of the employees or/and the leaders that we surveyed said it’s the employee, but 40% said it was the employer or the organization, and so with that divide we said now wait a second; this is a very important question and people are certainly not in agreement about the answer to this question, and so on the basis of that response we said we’ve got to dig into this, we’ve got to figure out what’s going on and why people have such different points of view. So, we went forward and we studied 150 highly engaged employees across 50 different organizations and I guess, David, the thing that stands out the most is that to a person these what we call engagement outliers, these individuals have a point of view that says I own my own engagement, I am primarily responsible for it, the organization has a secondary and a support role to play, but the primarily responsibility is mine. So, that would be the fundamental perspective and point of view of these people that we study, these engagement outliers. I think that’s a significant finding.
After reading the above paragraph you can see where Tim is headed with his research, and that's the first time I've read any employee engagment subject matter with that approach. I find it to be very eye opening to what an organization can and cannot accomplish with its efforts to increase employee engagement. We think as an organization that if managers do A and then B plus throw in some C and D that we will have an engaged workforce except for the few people that refuse. And that's the key that Tim Clark has written about, the refusal of all or any employees to be engaged. Some don't want to be engaged, their work is a paycheck not a career with a passion for growing in the industry. I think that's hard to accept for an employer. In the excerpt below Tim describes a workplace with employee support but without highly engaged employees.
I’m like anybody else; I think the nature of the work itself is perhaps the most important driver, and then I recognize, you know, and I try to do this in my own life, and that is to take the point of view that I’m responsible and that I’m not going to wait expectantly for the organization to engage me. You know one of the interesting things that we’ve found, David, in our research is that you can have a benevolent organization, you can have an organization that practices what we call fanatical employee support that does all kinds of things to help the employee in terms of resources, and guidance, and direction, and yet that employee can still be disengaged, and so that’s a very important thing to understand. We use the concept or we actually created a name for that – we call it happy dead weight, meaning that employees can be content and yet not engaged at the same time, so clearly it demonstrates that in spite of all that the organization can do, it cannot give you engagement; it’s not something you can give someone. They have to do that on their own, that’s a personal choice. Of course what the employer or the organization does to support you matters very much, but ultimately that’s a personal choice.
Happy Dead Weight, I guess thats better than angry dead weight but not by much. Then the interview turns toward highly engaged employees and what that brings to the organization.
David Zinger: Because you found people could engage in all kinds of different kinds of work and all kinds of different circumstances, and so if we look at those characteristics of highly engaged employees they tend not to be entitled, they’re engaging with their customers, and they remain highly engaged almost anywhere was one of your statements. [07:47]
Timothy Clark: Yeah, it’s really true. David, what we’ve found is that you could take a highly engaged person that had this point of view and you could parachute them in to about any organization and regardless of conditions they would remain highly engaged almost anywhere, and so what that said to us, what that taught us is that highly engaged people who take responsibility for it, they are incredibly agnostic to context.
Also he continues on with the 6 attributes of highly engaged employees and those are: connecting, shaping, learning, stretching, acheiving, and contributing. I'm not going to describe those here, please go to the interview to listen to those remarks, David Zinger Interview with Tim Clark . What I pulled away from this interview was that we aren't going to change anyone that doesn't want their job to be more than a paycheck, however we can add interview questions around those 6 characteristics of highly engaged employees to increase our productivity and engagement. I can also take this info and more from Tim's book, after I read it, and communicate to the workforce as an understanding of knowing what level of engagement the employees are at and accepting that however, in your current position you are at times expected to stretch beyond your current level of work, you are expected to be self-directed in learning and you are expected to be shaped in approaching your job duties. I'll see if I feel the same way after I read the book, I might have a different view that will actually work!
Any manager that believes that a performance review is only an opinion and not backed with proof will kill employee engagement in that company. I feel very confident in making that statement. Subjectivity instead of objectivity undercuts all efforts to make performance management successful because it relies on rater bias and allows a manager to be unorganized in his approach to performance management. This in turn destroys the relationship and communication that is necessary to increase employee engagment.
One of the leaders in employee engagement is David Zinger and his employee engagement pyramid of engagement building blocks demonstrates the relationship between performance management and employee engagement. I especially like the building block titled "Build Relationships" because it focuses on the fact that we have tasks to do however we don't actually manage the tasks our people do, we lead and manage the people doing the tasks. And that requires a good work relationship that fosters respect and in order to gain or keep employee respect the manager must be accurate, honest and organized. All of those qualities point toward an objective performance management evaluation based on predetermined goals and job duty metrics.
An organization must be able to identify key performance indicators for employees in order to be successful at performance management and thus be able to increase employee engagement. When performance management is left by itself standing alone as a single entity not tied to the goals of the organization (which should include increasing employee enagagement ) then it becomes the anti-employee engagement tool, in which case you should go to a rating that uses 666.
Organizations that successfully cascade down goals by using appropriate metrics not only acheive goals, they also improve employees which brings us back to the building blocks in David Zinger's pyramid and the two blocks directly underneath and supporting the top block of "Results", those two are "Maximize Performance" and "Path Progress". Employee engagement is easily increased when the employee has had an accurate and impartial performance review. The employee has energy when approaching job duties and the job has meaning to the employee when goals are achieved by an increase in performance. My highest energy days are when my manager had delegated a new task to me and let me handle the details and execution. Trusting an employee to perform to the maximum necessary brings an energy that increases the energy of those around him and that's one of the ways you increase employee engagement.
I have read many articles on the problems businesses are confronting in trying to use performance management evaluations. Some have just stopped using it, they say it is only good for a few years and then get rid of it. However, the middle managers lower the coaching and communicating they were barely doing during performance management years to an almost non existant level because performance management is gone. Some companies try to just "make it work" with the old subjective form and suffer the consequences. The successful ones have turned to using performance measurements that the employees agree they have control over, this in turn brings meaning to the employee's job. And WOW that happens to be another building block in David Zinger's pyramid on employee engagement. I see only one way to go if you've already started a performance management program and that's to use key performance indicators and a rating system that supports success.