Engagement — Who Is Responsible?

rawpixel-653764-unsplash*This is a guest post authored by Rob Field, Learning and Development Director at Advanced People Strategies.

Every business I know is working to measure engagement. After all, the difference between good and great lies in discretionary effort. Drive higher engagement and get better results. What could be simpler?

How to make it happen and where the responsibility lies is an interesting question. Often measured, evaluated, and benchmarked each year by HR through surveys – real ownership belongs to the line manager who can create a working climate where people enjoy contributing and feel valued. You can put anything you like on the walls about the corporate culture and ‘how we work around here’, however, it only becomes a reality through interactions managers have with their teams and how individual team members treat each other. That sets the culture, which determines the level of engagement.

We become engaged by what is important to us. Our values and motives, the things that drive us to act in particular ways. All of this can be measured, accurately. Supporting managers to understand their motives and values as part of their ongoing development is critical to their effectiveness as leaders.

This is not about pandering to individual team members and being over accommodating. It is about how work is presented, how team members are brought into discussions, and spotting the opportunities to use not only the talents of individuals but the underlying motivations as well.

A simple example. In Hogan assessments terms; a leader who is low on recognition may not be driven to be seen nor want the plaudits of others. Sure, they may be happy to receive some recognition, but they won’t go out of their way to attract it. They may prefer to just get on with things. The organisation may even prefer that as they are not seen as needing too much attention. The climate they may unconsciously create for their teams could be one where contributions go unnoticed or assumed. The assumption is more likely that people work for the intrinsic reward of doing a good job. They will probably provide few rewards and praise only superior performance. This is not about being judgemental but consider the impact if you are motivated and engaged by being recognized and looking for high visibility pieces of work by which to do so. After all – do you not want people to repeat skills and behaviours that lead to great results and confidence?

The same applies to affiliation, having predictability and order, financials, aesthetics, and other areas that could be important to individuals. These could be the things that attracted them to the job and the organisation in the first place.

The ability to weave these important aspects into how leaders increase their effectiveness is essential to driving ongoing success and building high performing teams. Raising the awareness from the start.

Perhaps we should include this in the objectives of managers and ensure they focus some attention on it. The difference would be worth the effort.

*Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.