In my last post I wrote that I had five reasons why the words “employee engagement” sometimes makes me want to put cotton in my ears, and I posted the first reason. Here are my other four reasons.
2- Clients have complained about consultants who promise to create employee engagement, and just conduct management training in active listening, suggest a diversity potluck and change language to sound inclusive. Nothing changes in the culture. Sure, employees may talk to each other while they eat, but usually they end up eating with people who are like them. They continue to be engaged with themselves.
Socializing and interpersonal relationships are important in engagement, but the conversation about employee engagement in the workplace is supposed to include everyone, people you know, don’t know and engaging the unengaged.
3- Some organizations measure employee engagement by in-house surveys, that ask employees if they’re happy. I’ve had employees tell me that no matter how much confidentiality is promised, there is no way they feel they can tell the truth if the organization is running the survey.
Assessments are important. Every organization needs a baseling, but you want one that is valid, not one where people are afraid to say what’s on their mind or make suggestions. My best clients are the ones that ask us to conduct an assessment or have already had an outside organization do one.
I’ve also experienced leaders in organizations that conduct their own assessment, make very minor changes and think they’re done. Increased engagement? Only in engagement fantasy land!
4- The term “employee engagement” can be akin to the word “diversity” in many organizations; someone gets hired as manager of diversity, or employee engagement, but they’re not given any authority, or a budget to do anything, except attend a conference and hear speakers.
When you hire an “engagement” person, make sure they are passionate, are willing to assert themselves and push back when necessary. Give them the support and power they need to create the culture where people thrive.
5- Organizations still resist developing a new kind of culture where employees are given opportunities to use talents, and genius that no one knew they had. You can’t “engage” employees unless you ask employees for their ideas or know what talents and experience they bring to the organization.
Instead of just talking about employee engagement, leaders should engage themselves to discover, acknowledge, and leverage employee genius at every level. Let’s talk about ETO, Employee Talent Optimization. That’s how people get engaged in their success and the success of the organization.
Let’s talk about creating a sense of community in organizations, where every day employees, can be integral members of that community, and develop their own passion to help the “workplace community,” be successful.
My own experience, research and observation has shown that employees at all levels are more engaged when they feel part of something greater than themselves and when that something is the community called “your business,” it becomes “their business. This is how we develop ETO, or “Employee Talent Optimization”
Three ways leaders Can Create Employee Talent Optimization
1- Ask employees what they need in order to be able to demonstrate their skills and talents and be engaged. Allow them to help you.
2- Identify skills and talents the organization needs in order to create breakthrough products and services. Share that information with employees and offer with incentives for contributing their “personal genius.” You can’t engage their diverse talents and skills if you don’t know what they are.
3- Develop and implement, systems and processes to solicit success ideas from all employees, not just people in management. Include entry level and hourly employees.
Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker,” where the person doing the job has the most knowledge of how to do it.
Employees will be overjoyed to tell you what they need to make their jobs easier, provide distinct customer service and be more productive. Of course, you need to be open to new ideas and be willing to implement them even when it means big changes.
You might discover that your employees have additional talents and passions that would benefit the whole organization. You won’t know if you don’t ask.