Lower Engagement Levels: Harder Work for Leaders

The levels of employee engagement have long been linked to productivity levels. A key link that the recent Gallup survey made was that it had a direct impact on how hard senior managers in an organisation had to work. Senior managers find themselves in low engagement environment dealing with:

  • Continuous recruitment and training of new hires who do not yet provide a “productive” return
  • Saying farewell to those that have acquired the right institutional knowledge, client relationships and business specific skills to provide a higher than average contribution to business performance.
  • Dealing with non-performance related issues i.e. fixing problems created in production,  with customers, addressing non-performing team members with negative attitudes or worse significant labour disputes
  • Filling the gap in productivity by working longer hours, rather than being able to confidently delegate key responsibilities to team members

The key to addressing this is tackling the challenge one step in the people value chain at a time, from attracting, recruiting, on-boarding, performance managing, developing, rewarding and retaining. The research also shows that we do not need all employees engaged, but only a key 20%.

The first step in the process is to define what engagement means and looks like in your team? Recognising the 3 key factors linked to why people leave organisations:

  • My manager, which is linked to an element of personal engagement and the creation of a fair and constructive working environment. Critical in the new world of work is having manager / leaders who have key skills in developing constructive working environments and relationships with team members.
  • The perception I am fairly rewarded and recognised for effort, which addresses not only my hygiene requirements, but also creates a sense of personal success and recognition that I am the right person for the role. Linked to this is that you have the right people in the right seats, capable of performing to the requirements of the role.
  • A strong sense of shared purpose, which creates a personal sense of connection and meaning in what I do. How does the leader connect individual contribution, to an overall team goal, and a superordinate “why” we do what we do and not only focusing on what and how we do things?

Once you have assessed which one of these is potentially lacking or has the potential to have the biggest impact on engagement, the appropriate first intervention or action can be taken. This needs to be linked to a critical step in the people value chain and also augmented by a strong leadership development focus. Great people initiatives implemented that are not supported by strong people leaders have limited chance of making any meaningful impact.

It takes us full circle to high engagement is driven by strong leaders. This is why as many organisations begin to focus on engagement, they find themselves being led to building stronger leaders. Investing in acquiring, developing and building a pipeline of leaders capable of engaging the right people to take the organisation to the next level.

Written by: John Brodie, Group Managing Director at Mindcor

Employee Engagement