If you want your business to succeed, employee engagement is vital in the workplace!

In my earlier years as an executive and leader, in the early 1990s, I leaned toward a style that utilized my title and position as a means to getting things done through others.  I wasn’t really focused on developing people and creating an environment for them to succeed, quite the contrary, I expected them to do what I directed them to do.  This created an atmosphere of compliance but not engagement.  Over the ensuing years, because of my maturity but also by becoming aware of research and information indicating another way to lead, which was much more conducive to respect for people.  I was able to do this by accessing an outside party to accelerate and catalyze a change process for both my team and myself.  This new approach for me was instrumental in seeing much higher levels of engagement within my organization.  This drastically altered the way I led and ultimately succeeded as a Chief Executive Officer.

My leadership story is one of transformation from focusing on a command and control approach to one of creating an environment for team members to grow, align themselves with the organization, which resulted in increasing levels of productivity and engagement.  Unfortunately for the rest of corporate America, the polling from Gallup indicates that 68.5% of employees are not engaged in their current roles.  It appears there is a lot of work to be done in this area.  This disengagement of employees was estimated to cost corporate America between $450 – 550 billion in lost productivity annually.1

A good definition of employee engagement would be an emotional commitment and alignment with the organizational goals and values, doing their best each day, and continually working toward developing themselves.  There is also research indicating that an immediate manager is responsible for up to 70% of the variance in Employee Engagement scores.  Therefore, it is easy to conclude that developing managers and leaders in such a way to optimize employee engagement is money and effort well spent.

If an organization undertakes this task of increasing employee engagement, the focus must be consistent within the leadership team of systematically developing a strategy that addresses broadly the contextual elements of trust, communication, and alignment.  Many times an outside resource can be brought in to help establish an initial framework to be put in place that is flexible and can be adjusted over time.  The need for adjustment would be based on the results of a consistent survey approach that would indicate where the organization is relative to its engagement level target.

Alan Gleghorn is the founder of Convergency Systems www.convergencysystems.com which is a professional leadership development training company.   We are focused on helping organizations develop trust, enhance communication and alignment with their teams in order to increase productivity and revenue as well as engage and retain their employees more effectively.

12013 State of the American Workplace report