Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Do You Encourage Engagement?

I was talking with a friend recently and we were discussing my favorite topic – employee engagement. My friend runs a small business, the kind where he still knows all of his employee’s names, the names of their spouses, and most of their kids. But his business is growing and he knows that it won’t be long until that is no longer possible. And, he is rightfully concerned about how his business will change when he no longer has that level of intimacy with his employees. Until now he has done an excellent job of communicating his vision to his team members and then using his personal relationships with them to reinforce his thoughts and get their ideas and buy-in. Since many of his employees deal with their customers every day, he wants to make sure that they are fully engaged with the business because that means they will try and fully engage the clients as well.

His question was a simple one. How do I continue to fully engage my team when I no longer have the luxury of knowing them all so personally? Can you really have an engaged team without the personal connection?

For many, the concept of employee engagement works well with small, intimate organizations where the team members almost feel like part of the family. Camaraderie plays an integral role in keeping everyone involved and engaged in the organization. But, just like a family can sometimes lose touch when it gets too big, they believe that having more employees automatically leads to less engagement.

And, to some extent, this is probably true. After all, it’s easier to get 5 people to buy in to and dedicate themselves to a vision than it is to get 500. And what happens when that 500 turns into 5000, or 50,000? Is it even possible to have an engaged organization of 50,000 people?


Employee engagement is not about knowing the names and spouses of each employee. Nor is it about company picnics, bowling teams, or night’s out at the ballgame. Employee engagement is about making every employee believe in the common vision. It’s about knowing that, in some way, they can impact the vision and that their ideas, suggestions, and concerns really matter. Employee engagement is about caring what people think and encouraging them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Of course, you don’t want to ignore the personal side of the equation, but just because you know your employees’ names and who their spouses are does not mean that they are engaged or care about the business or its customers. Engagement only happens when they know that they can make a difference.

The question becomes, how do I encourage my 500th employee to be as engaged as my 5th employee is? How can I obtain their buy in to the vision and promote their buy in?

What has to happen for them to know that their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions do matter and that we want them to impact the business?

We will be discussing this concept more in the next few weeks.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Interesting Post Dave,

    I have just completed a week of orientation with a new firm. What strikes me from the top is the people.

    Many companies have a Vision, Mission and Values. What I observed was that each employee, supervisor, Manager and Director I met demonstrated these in our conversations and training. I ask my self how did that occur?

    Well they communicated the core values. The held each other accountable for each activity that contributed to those values. It was embedded in the conversations, it was embedded in the attitude.

    This company is over 100 years old. I am very impressed with the way they are able to do this.

    To summarize,
    Match actions to values

    Thanks for the post.