Like capturing a unicorn or spotting Bigfoot wandering the Himalayas, the ideas of employee engagement and corporate culture are just fodder – issues for other companies to figure out. “We don’t have an corporate culture issue; our company is great!”
Is this real self-reflection or perhaps a misguided psychological repression of the truth? Is your company building a highly engaged culture? The verdict is in, and the results are saying “not so much.”
When New York Times best-selling author of “The Carrot Principle” and “All In,” Adrian Gostick, took the stage on Feb. 28 at this year’s Business & Leadership Conference, he didn’t wait long to challenge the room as to whether or not they had truly engaged employees. He asked more than 300 executive-level business leaders if their employees are all in. Then he asked, “Are you all in?”
After two years of research from over 300,000 business leaders around the world, he shared insights that have a direct effect on business performance: “It’s not a lack of intelligence that sinks companies!”
If not, then what is it?
Like a hunter seeking its prey, employees can tell when leaders aren’t committed. Simply stated by Gostick, “People can smell it if you don’t live it and breathe it.”
I have found this to be true far too often. Our world is full of distractions, making it easy to lose sight of how you connect with your employees. While we might step away occasionally to garner insights such as those gained from Gostick today, on most days, we are neck deep in what needs to be done now. Always the “what” and the “how,” Gostick explained, but in the end, the best leaders drive the “why.”
People tend to know what they do and how they do it, but the best leaders are able to engage employees when they help them not only understand why, but to embrace it.
Going After Engagement, You Must Enable and Energize
Gostick takes the idea of engagement one step further by saying that engagement alone isn’t enough. “Employees must also be enabled and energized.”
I couldn’t agree more, although I think they are interdependent drivers. If an employee is engaged, chances are good that the way his or her leader enabled them has significantly impacted the way the engagement was built. Further, that enablement and consistent communication creates energy.
If I ever had to slightly tweak Gostick’s model of Engage, Enable, and Energize, I would say they are the three keys … but they are 100% interdependent (you really can’t have one without the other two).
Ask yourself this question: Have you ever met an employee who was highly energized and enabled, but wasn’t engaged?
Employees Are Less Engaged Than You Think!
I always suspected that the real disconnect in company culture lies within the C-suite. We “think” we are connected, engaged, and even inspirational … but a lot of times we are not. We also think we are good motivators and that we are positive … but, once again, far too often we are not.
Gostick shared evidence of this when he said two-thirds of managers believe they are good at providing positive feedback and recognition; however, when their employees were asked, not even one-third agreed.
Creating an Engaged Business
We are often disconnected from our employees, but we aren’t always aware of this disconnect … so we ignore the challenge subconsciously; however, as a whole, our businesses depend on having employees who are engaged and passionate about what they do.
I believe this will be a top strategic challenge for every leader throughout the majority of their career because it is never really solved. As people change (promotions, turnover, etc.), the culture and engagement both change. Some companies do manage this through lower attrition and stronger vision, but the need to keep employees engaged will forever be a piece of the puzzle.
During his presentation, Gostick told a story about Hard Rock and how they build a fun, scalable, and repeatable culture. In an interview with a dishwasher from one of its locations, the young man talks about how much he loves his job as a dishwasher. I didn’t even know that was possible. Apparently it is, and Gostick seems to have a few of the keys. While I believe this debate and discussion will evolve, Gostick offered a solid presentation on a topic that should be near and dear to our hearts. –Daniel Newman, Broadsuite CEO