Engage Them or Lose Them

By Michael W. Hill, Mobius Vendor Partners Executive Consultant, Birkman Professional

A recent issue of Sales and Marketing Management magazine has an interesting article on employee engagement titled: “The High Cost of a Disengaged Work Force.” I say interesting because the three-step process the author, Paul Nolan, refers to in the article matches three of the five steps that I write and speak about, regarding ways to improve employee performance—through the use of employee evaluations.

Mr. Nolan starts by giving us the numbers of disengaged employees. (Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace.) He sites a Gallup survey that reports 68 percent of the U.S. workforce is disengaged. So as you objectively look around your office and your company, 7 out of 10 of the employees you’re surrounded by are disengaged.

What’s the cause of this disengagement? It varies; however, you as a manager might be the problem! In another study cited by Mr. Nolan, a survey of 7,200 adults in the U.S. found that 50 percent left a job at some point in their career to get away from their manager.

The author contends that disengaged employees spread their disengagement. They’ll undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish, thus aggressively lowering morale and productivity levels. Birds of a feather flock together.

So, what do you do about these employees? Mr. Nolan quotes consultant Scott Crabtree: “You cannot buy somebody’s engagement, but you can fail to buy it.” He explains that if employees feel they are not getting compensated fairly, they will disengage from the work you have asked them to do.  Mr. Crabtree uses the acronym “GAP” to improve employee engagement: goals, alignment, and progress.

It’s at this part of the article where Mr. Nolan’s tactics and mine (on improving employee performance) start to overlap.

Goals – my first step and also Mr. Crabtree’s. Study after study shows that challenging employees to meet goals motivates them to a higher performance level.

The “A” in Mr. Crabtree’s GAP mnemonic is for alignment; my second step is identifying actions and accomplishments that are aligned with successfully completed goals. The best way to get alignment is to explain to employees how their work fits in the big picture. If you accomplish this, the company wins.

The P in GAP stands for progress. Progress needs to be celebrated – and it’s my fourth step. Acknowledge when measurements are accomplished. Even a little thank-you goes a long way. We once gave each of our employees a silver dollar on payday to celebrate a great month. To this day, many of the employees still talk about receiving that silver dollar when I see them, and it was done 10 years ago!

Mr. Nolan concludes his article by stating that employees should take initiatives to increase their own engagement. You can set some of your own goals; communicate them with your boss and co-workers. And when you accomplish your goals, celebrate, give yourself a reward.

If you use these three steps, you will automatically achieve Mr. Nolan’s and my goal of “enhancing your corporate culture.” Just imagine a group of employees with focused goals, measurable activities that you and the employees have agreed on, and their receiving acknowledgment for their accomplishments. Now that’s a win-win for your employees and your company!

You may want our help

At EmployeeCount by Mobius Vendor Partners, we have the software to measure whether you are addressing the wellbeing of your employees. After measuring it, we can help you put together the program(s) to address those areas that need attention. Contact us to get started!