Relating Employee Engagement to Company Performance

This is the final post in our series on employee engagement.  We hope you’ve found the posts helpful and insightful.

We know Employee Engagement is a hot topic in the business community, and we think it’s more than just a passing fad.  There are some fundamental things in the concept of employee engagement that can help you save money and make more of it.

If you’ve been following this series, then you’ll know we posted articles about each of the 12 questions in Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement assessment.  That can be overwhelming.

To help make it easier to understand, we created an infographic to help illustrate the relationship between the 12 elements of employee engagement and four key dimensions of business performance.

The vertical axis is composed of the 12 Gallup questions. Gallup organized these into groupings.

Employee Engagement, Productivity, Customer Satisfaction, Turnover, Employee Turnover, Profitability, Performance

The bold colors indicate Gallup determined there was a high degree of correlation between dimensions of employee engagement and measures of company performance. We added lighter-shaded colors where we felt there were other intersections between engagement and performance that merited consideration. Click on the infographic to see a larger version that’s easier to read.

Base Camp represented the very basics of employee engagement – providing employees the information and tools to do their jobs.

Camp One was grouped around questions that reflected what employees could give back to their employers.

Camp 2 deals with questions about employees having a sense of belonging.

The Summit is comparable to the peak of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: self-actualization. In fact, the whole Gallup Q12 has many parallels with Maslov’s model in that it is essentially a spectrum from basic needs (to do the job right) to more emotional or intellectual needs that make the job resonate with the employee.

The horizontal axis is composed of four dimensions that measure success in an organization: Productivity, Profitability, Customer Satisfaction and Employee Turnover.

According to Gallup’s research, Employee turnover is really driven by the first six questions.  If you don’t do the basics, you will lose employees.  We included question 12 as well, because we feel employees will leave when they no longer see opportunities to grow in an organization. It may be a bit of a gray area, because it may be something beyond the control of the company.

Productivity is influenced by all but 2 of the 12 factors. What seems to be important is having the right tools/technology, recognition, feedback and having a sense of belonging.

Profitability appears to be impacted by management style. When employees have clear direction and feel they have support, perhaps they’re more willing to take calculated risks that positively impact the bottom line.  Also, when they have opportunities to grow and develop, they can bring new skills to the organization that can help improve processes and grow profitability.  We added in “right tools” because we felt, intuitively, that technology contributes immediately to productivity, but ultimately to productivity.

When employees perceive themselves as treated fairly, Customer Satisfaction is positively affected. Sometimes employees have to go outside procedures to ensure customers are looked after and, when they do so, and feel they will be supported for doing what’s right for the customer, they’ll continue to take those risks. We added “opinions” because we feel it’s an indicator the company is paying more than lip service to employee ideas. This could include input that some company procedures do not support customer satisfaction.

What You Can Do

If you really want to assess the level of engagement among your employees, the Gallup Q12 is a very simple tool to administer.  You might want to consider bringing in a consultant to oversee the project and to act as a buffer between employees and management to help ensure employees open up.

What is your management team saying are the main issues in the organization?

Use the dimensions from the Q12 to explore where you might be lacking and where you can implement some changes.

Make a point of regularly getting out of your office to connect with employees and listen to their views.  They’ll be more likely to come to you when they see problems and you may find they have some valuable suggestions to offer. Face-to-Face interaction is so much more effective than the traditional suggestion box.


As we said last week, we’ll be compiling all the posts in this series into a White Paper so you can have the entire series in a single document.  Watch your email to find out when it will be available.  Like all our White Papers, they’re complimentary.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 12. Development

With this post, we’re reaching the end of our series on employee engagement.


As an older job-seeker, I frequently was asked how long I planned to continue working. While I think this was a way to side-step around asking me my age, I usually took it at face value.  My answer was that I’d continue to work as long I was learning something.

When I look back at my career, the companies where I stayed the longest were the ones where I was learning new things – and, coincidentally, where I felt I had the most fun.

engagement, development, growth, opportunityAt one company, it was learning how to compete effectively against a giant like Procter & Gamble. At Lawson Mardon, the corporate culture revolved around the study of management, leadership and strategy. When I worked for Plasmatreat, it was an introduction to nanotechnology and learning about a lot of leading-edge manufacturing processes in dynamic industries such as aerospace and medical devices.

Ironically, when Gallup analyzed the effects of the Q12 on four different dimensions – turnover, productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction – they found that giving employees the opportunity to grow and develop did not correlate with reduced turnover. Instead, they suggest growth opportunities are more strongly correlated with increased company profitability.

In our experience, while it’s true that employees switch companies to escape bad bosses or for higher salaries, it can just as easily be true that the employee has accomplished as much as they can hope to do with that employer and the only way to continue professional development is to move to another company.

One recruiter I know, who works in the CPG sector, moved people routinely from one kind of company to another: from Food to Personal Care products or Household Product; from large companies to smaller ones.  To some extent, the moves were induced to help the recruiter earn more fees; from the perspective of the employees, it gave them broader exposure – to different industries, competitors, channels – that would render them more highly marketable. The average tenure in CPG marketing was about 2 years – about the time it takes to go through one complete budget cycle and come away with demonstrable results.  I was placed by this recruiter multiple times and I can honestly say I benefitted from the exposure to different industries and corporate cultures.

What You Can Do

One thing you can consider doing is expanding the scope of each employee’s job so they experience new challenges.

Cross-training is one way of doing this, and it helps your organization by enabling employees to be more flexible and versatile so, when someone leaves the company or is on vacation, you have people already trained to fit into the vacant jobs.

This is easier to do in a larger company than a smaller one because there are simply more roles available to move someone into. That’s not to say it’s impossible to do in a smaller company.  In small companies, one way to create growth opportunities for employees is to promote them so they can take on more responsibility.

We tend to think of employee development in a managerial context, developing the proverbial mail-room clerk so he/she can become CEO. But not all employees are good at managing people and some simply don’t want to take on that kind of responsibility. For employees who have no desire to enter management ranks, consider developing a “professional” track whereby they can take on increasingly more challenging projects or become subject-matter experts without having any direct reports.  It’s a way to recognize their contribution to the company while allowing them to develop their professional skills. We had such a system in place at Esso, where you could find engineers who were experts on highly specialized topics such as fluid dynamics or catalysts.

Encourage your employees to acquire more knowledge. Have a program whereby the company provides some degree of financial support when an employee successfully completes a formal outside course.

Encourage your employees to achieve professional certification in their respective areas. This especially applies to employees on the professional career track.


Next week, we’ll wrap up the series with a summary.  We’ll be compiling all the posts in this series into a White Paper so you can have the entire series in a single document.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 11. Feedback

If you think, from the title of this post, that you’ve already got this topic covered off because you do annual performance appraisals, then think again.

If you’re only meeting with employees once a year to discuss their career progress, you’re not doing enough to truly engage your employees.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be doing annual performance reviews, but one problem with doing these once a year is that employees don’t have a lot of faith that the process is intended to help them in their careers and that the annual performance review is just “management’s” way of controlling salary increases.

An annual performance review is also very stressful for both employee and manager.  Employee’s hate to get them; Managers hate to do them.  Sounds like a process gone wrong.

The Gallup Q12 questionnaire has one question that addresses feedback: “In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about My progress?” Notice it’s not in the past year; it’s in the past 6 months.

feedback, engagement, employeeThe best managers I’ve ever worked for did things differently.

Sometimes, it might be as simple as a quick Post-It or note written on a document that said something like, “Great job!” or “You can do better than this”.  Note this isn’t used to only deliver positive feedback.

Something I used to do with my sales team was, when they landed a new account, I’d go see them, shake their hand and say something like, “Nicely done!” or “Way to go!”  Usually, I’d also ask them how they managed to win over the account and what they expected to see in sales revenue.

With either of these approaches, there’s no monetary reward or punishment, simply some recognition and honest feedback – and it’s done close to the time the action was taken by the employee.  I call it Management in the Moment.

The feedback doesn’t have to always be positive.  It’s OK to criticize, but do it constructively. You’ll be helping your employees correct behaviours or processes so they get things right sooner.  And you’ll see positive results in company performance.

Something else my best bosses did was periodically take me out to lunch.  Sometimes, it was to discuss a project I’d been working on or to talk about an issue at work. Other times, it might just be to have a friendly chat about how things are going.  What’s special about this approach is that it’s informal and done in a relaxing environment..  But it’s still Management in the Moment.

When I had a sales team, I promised I would take them out to lunch every month that they collectively exceed quota. The business portion of our lunch was simply saying, “Way to go, everyone. Thanks for exceeding quota.” and an unwritten rule was that we wouldn’t talk business over this team lunch. It was really a team building exercise because everyone got to go to lunch, and nobody wanted to be the one who was below quota. I think we only missed a few lunches in my time, and never two in a row. I think this was part of the reason our Division was the top performer in our company.

One of the best people I know who used lunches effectively was a colleague, Misha Sivan.  When we were working on a data warehouse project together, if we had a stretch goal, Misha would say to the development team we’d take them out for lunch if they delivered on that goal.  That project was completed inside 16 weeks from concept to live and the lunches were not just ways to rewarding goal achievements, they also served as a way to build team cohesion and spirit.

The underlying principle through all of this is the delivery of feedback on a regular basis, not just once a year. I think most people appreciate acknowledgement of their efforts and achievements and sometimes it’s the little things, such as those notes or lunches, that they appreciate the most. And, when the time comes to do the annual performance review that HR wants on file, there should be no surprises because feedback has been delivered.  It’s just a matter of collecting and summarizing in the performance review report.

What You Can Do

  • Get out of your office on a daily basis to interact with your staff. It also signals you’re approachable if they need help.
  • Catch them doing things right, and let them know you’re pleased with the job they’ve done.
  • When an employee has done a nice job on a report, send back a copy with a handwritten note or even just some comments written in the margins.
  • Even if the report isn’t great, write in some comments to show where they could have done better and maybe suggest other ways they could have done things.


Giving informal feedback on a regular basis has two very positive effects: you reinforce good behaviours so employees keep doing them and you help them change negative behaviours sooner than if you waited a year for their next performance review. By making your employees feel they are valued, you really help them become engaged in their work.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 10. A Best Friend

My daughter works at the headquarters of Roots, an iconic Canadian fashion retailer.  She called a few weeks ago about some questions she was asked during her first few months. For the most part, she understood the reasons behind the questions, but there was one that puzzled her: Do you have a best friend at work?

I explained she was probably being given a questionnaire about employee engagement, and that having a best friend at work is one indicator of engagement.

We make friends in so many ways: school, clubs, and being neighbours to mention just a few. One way of thinking is that schools and clubs take you through common experiences that you share with classmates. Friendships formed through clubs and neighbours are probably driven by common interests. In all cases, the shared interest or experience takes place over an extended period of time, through which people can gradually reveal themselves to others and steadily build bonds.

The same is likely true also for work. There is both the shared experience of working for the same company but also, in the case of engaged employees, a shared commitment to the company’s mission.

Headhunter, Recruiter, Manufacturing, FriendFriendship is a relationship that develops along a scale that goes something like this:

  1. Stranger
  2. First-Name basis
  3. Acquaintance 
  4. Indirect friend
  5. Direct friend
  6. Close friend
  7. Best friend

In an organizational setting, new employees first encounter people as strangers.  As they’re introduced to the organization, they get to know some people on a first-name basis. They might find that they share something in common with one or two of these people, which leads to a warmer relationship. I think you get the idea of how this can progress.

The more similarities people have and the more positive validation they get from each other, the more they develop mutual trust and they can move up the relationship scale.

The way I interpret the reason behind this question in the Q12 is that being a best friend means there is considerable mutual trust and information sharing between the two halves of the friendship. Trust is one of the underlying elements in high-performing teams. The trust is gradually built through shared experiences – usually with positive outcomes.  However, in an organizational context, being a best friend probably means finding other connections besides work – common interests, such as sports or being a fan of a sports team.

My father was in the armed forces, and we moved around the country. Along the way, my parents formed many friendships with fellow families from the service – enduring relationships that spanned decades.  It was a great role model for me to follow.

Playing a sport can be a great equalizer: the organizational hierarchy has nothing to do with skill level in sports. I used to play squash, and found it was a fun way to forge relationships with people in other departments in the organization. For me, it was squash; for others it could be hockey or golf or something else. You (hopefully) have some fun together but also you see others in a way that goes beyond their role in an organization. You’re letting down your guard while you’re doing this outside activity, but it can make it easier to approach a fellow employee when you need a favour or assistance with something.  It can also promote cross-functional collaboration.

Personally, I’d like to see this question in the Q12 expressed more like “how many fellow employees fall into the different classifications on the friendship scale above”, or maybe “what is the highest degree of friendship you have with a fellow employee?” I like to see something other than a yes or no answer and something more easily quantified.

For a company like Roots, I think the founders want to be able to attract talented people on the basis of a vibrant corporate culture. Measuring employee engagement is just one way to put some metrics on culture, and engagement has also been demonstrated to have high correlation with customer satisfaction and overall corporate success.

As you can probably imagine, having close friendships at work can build employee loyalty. Working with people you like and respect helps build morale and, when morale is high, employees feel more comfortable taking on new challenges.  Those challenges usually also lead a company to greater opportunities.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 9. Commitment

So far, in this series, we’ve talked about ensuring employees have a clear idea of what is expected of them and helping them realize that by providing them the tools to do the job right.  Employees can be inspired by the company’s mission, which can give them a strong sense of purpose.

I’ve seen several organizations where the majority of employees are excited about coming to work every day but a few slackers were enough to bring down the mood in the office.  It can be hard to sustain your motivation if your co-workers undermine all the good work you do by not caring.

So the ninth question in Gallup’s Q12 explores this, posing, “Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?”

Commitment, Recruiter, HeadhunterGallup suggests this commitment by fellow workers, along with four other measures is correlated with productivity.  When employees, overall, feel their fellow employees share their commitment to the organization, the productivity of the organization increases.

(The other four measures were: “I know what is expected of me”, “My opinions are valued”, “ I believe in the company’s mission” and “Overall satisfaction”.)

Imagine how it must feel for someone who takes pride in their work and who does an excellent job to hand off their work to someone who drops the ball or is careless how they do their part of the task or project.  Similarly, you’ll find in many companies employees who have to correct others’ mistakes or sloppiness so they can hand off to the next operation.  They must feel constantly frustrated.

From a customer’s point of view, shoddy workmanship usually shows up in defective materials.  They have to call in the sales rep to assess the scope of the problem, segregate defective materials and work out some form of compensation as well as paperwork to return the defective goods.  In a worst case scenario, the customer may have to shut down their line and lay off people – then ask for even more compensation for lost work and possibly lost business.

What can you do about this?

One of the easiest ways to start addressing this is by going out on the shop floor (or office) and talk to the employees one on one to work your way through the process to identify which employee(s) are contributing to the situation.

Improving the calibre of their work may simply be a matter of training them or providing the proper tools to do their task right. It might mean modifying the process (by automation, for example) to remove the human element from affecting the outcome.

If the root cause of the problem is attitude, that is a much harder issue to deal with.  It may mean terminating employees.  In some cases, not getting rid of employees who don’t care about their jobs can be seen by employees as weak management or a demonstration that management doesn’t care or lacks commitment to the company’s mission.  You can risk losing your best employees in this type of situation.  So, sometimes terminating bad employees have a positive overall effect on morale and productivity.

Getting out on the shop floor is one way to demonstrate to employees that management cares about what’s happening in the plant. Speaking with them one on one is one way to show that management cares about employees’ opinions.  Correcting problems in the plant shows employees that management can not only act on their input, but also walk the talk.  In other words, they have enough commitment to the company’s mission to make things work.

Talk is cheap. Action gets results.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 7. Opinions

The seventh question in the Q12 is “At work, do my opinions seem to count?”

Many companies have tried suggestion boxes in an effort to get input from their employees.  Often these efforts fail for a number of reasons:

A Bad Idea for a Suggestion Box

How employees view the suggestion box.

If the employee’s suggestion saves the company a significant amount of money and the employee receives no monetary reward. Operational suggestions will dry up because employees feel management is trying to take credit for their thinking.

Sometimes the employees don’t take the suggestion box seriously and submit inane (sometimes profane) suggestions. Probably, in cases such as this, the employees feel distanced from their managers by being forced to contribute their ideas to a box instead of to a person.

Sometimes management pays only lip service to the suggestion process.  They may say they’re listening to employees but they never provide any feedback or act on the suggestions that get submitted. Employees give up because they see no value in the process.

One easy thing that can be done to encourage more suggestions to be made by employees at all levels is for managers to get out of their offices and interact with their employees.  It’s not enough to do it once a year; it has to be done regularly to be effective and for employees to accept it’s not a management gimmick. By being visible and approachable, employees will feel more comfortable coming forward to offer suggestions. Besides, the suggestion box is such an impersonal way to obtain input.

If you use a suggestion box, ensure every employee understands it’s their right to voice their opinions.  Sure, you’ll get some rants from the disgruntled and disaffected but, if you see a consistent pattern of comments coming from several employees, that should be a red flag there’s something you should be acting on.  Even if all you do is explain the reasons behind some company policy or procedure it’s better than ignoring the issue altogether.

Another thing that can help is to act on employee suggestions.  Everyone loves to see ideas or dreams become reality, and your employees are no exception. Implementing employee ideas will instil pride in your team, and it will encourage more employees to bring their ideas forward.

I once had a new packaging customer it had taken my team almost two years to develop, and we wanted to make a good first impression on our first order.  Although our plant was a union shop, I brought together the operators who’d be working on the order and asked them how they thought the order should be run and what would be the best materials to use.  When the customer received his order, he called me up and said it was the best flexo printing he’d ever seen.  The production team were justifiably proud of what they’d accomplished. 

Interestingly, the union never raised a concern about how we managed this project.  I think they saw this as a sign their members were being listened to and that their expertise was valued.

So, make a plan to get out of your office and devote 10%, 20% or 30% of your time to actively interacting with other employees in your company. Likely, within 6 months, you’ll notice a big positive change in performance.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 6. Development

We’ve been focusing lately on factors that can really motivate people to perform their best.

The sixth question in the Q12 is “Is there anyone at work who encourages my development?”

In our last post, we described how employees want to feel their managers care about them as individuals. And, as individuals, each employee has his or her own expectations of what their career can be.

I don’t think anyone wants to work in a repetitive role or task.  Some are more Employee Developmentcomfortable with the status quo and don’t have lofty ambitions to progress further.  Others see careers as ladders, to be mounted one rung at a time, and expect to be in the job role for only a short while before moving up to the next level.  The majority are probably somewhere in between.

Most managers associate the term “employee development” with identifying and promoting employees through the ranks to senior management, But development doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to promotion up the ladder.  It’s more about helping employees realize their potential.  From a manager’s perspective, we need to ensure our employees are developed to the point where they are able to optimize their contribution to the organization.

We should identify courses that can help develop skills and/or knowledge in particular areas.  We also should be thinking about projects and other work assignments that can enable employees to gain experience beyond their current responsibilities.  There could be opportunities for job rotation so employees get a feel for how other jobs relate to the ones they’ve been doing.

But a central principle is that there needs to be ongoing dialogue with the employee to discuss their goals and potential so that, as managers, we can help them realize those goals.  An annual performance review is simply not adequate for achieving this.  With an ongoing dialogue, it’s analogous to reviewing progress and getting feedback from the employees in real time. And this ongoing dialogue can be perceived by employees as a way that managers can demonstrate how they care about their employees.

Some companies have defined development paths for employees. I don’t think the Executive Track needs much explanation. Some companies have implemented something like a “Professional Track” whereby employees can become subject matter experts in their fields – engineering, sales, IT and so on.  People on the professional track don’t necessarily take on responsibilities for managing people.  Some of them recognize they don’t have a talent for leading others; some just don’t want to assume that type of responsibility.

Progressing along a professional track might mean specialized courses to increase depth of knowledge in a topic area.  It could also mean working on progressively more challenging projects. It also allows employees who follow this track to realize increases in compensation as they move from one level of expertise to the next. This can help retain employees with such valuable knowledge: they feel they are being recognized for their expertise and are being rewarded for further developing their expertise.

When employees feel their employer cares about them and helps them realize their potential, they’re much more likely to remain with that employer. The result is reduce hiring costs because the need to hire replacement workers is reduced and employees who are motivated to help their employer to succeed. The latter will manifest itself in improved productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 5. Caring

We’re currently focusing on four factors that can really motivate people to perform their best.

The fifth question in the Q12 is “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?”

When you work for a large organization with many employees it can be easy to feel insignificant, but most employees want to feel valued by their employers and it’s hard to feel that way when you perceive yourself as just another cog inthe wheel.

There’s nothing more demoralizing than working for a boss who doesn’t seem to consider the feelings of his employees.  You get asked to work extra hours at the worst possible times – like when your daughter has a music recital.  Your boss yells at you when you complain about something, or she chews you out in front of other employees over a tiny mistake. When you have a manager who lacks any sense of caring for their employees, you usually see turnover as employees leave the company to distance themselves from these “managers”Caring and Reassurance.

Something Gallup identified as a success factor in achieving employee engagement was that managers recognized their employees as unique individuals.  Techniques to motivate people would vary from person to person because what might work for one might be ineffective on another employee.

It doesn’t mean a manager has to be friends with his employees.  There is a need for some professional distance between manager and employee. But a manager needs to get to know her people well enough to understand what drives them, to be aware of what’s important to them to be able to tailor development activities or motivational techniques that match the employee’s personality and needs. Asking how a spouse or child is doing, talking about a favorite sport or activity – these are ways of asking open ended questions or having discussions that demonstrate an interest in the employee on the part of the manager.

I usually talk to people about music, pets and sports.  My tastes in music are eclectic, so I find it easy to relate to each individual’s tastes and to talk about bands or composers the employee likes. People are usually passionate about pets, so asking about breed, behaviours and things like that draw people out in a way similar to how mothers talk about their children. With sports, knowing a favorite team or player can serve as a focal point for engaging in conversation with employees.

If knowing your employees as individuals is difficult for you, try this exercise.  Create an Excel worksheet with  the names of your employees in the first column. Head up the other columns with topics like “Spouse”, “Children’s names”, “Favorite baseball team”, “ Favorite music genre”, “Favorite band” etc.  Now go out and talk with your employees so you can gradually fill in all the cells in your worksheet.  If you’re able to add one or two items to the sheet each week for each employee, you’ll make a lot of progress – and watch how your employees respond.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 4. Recognition

We’re working right now on four factors that help motivate people to perform their best.

The fourth question in the Q12 is “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?”

I think ALL employees like to feel their work is appreciated.  That it makes a difference.

Recognition Word CloudThink how you would feel if you thought you were doing a good job and your boss made you feel that that was just what was expected of you and never acknowledged the effort you put into your work.  I think, if all employees hear is criticism, there comes a point at which they tune out and then the best employees decide to leave.

When was the last time you made some positive comments on the work done by one of your subordinates? We tend to hear more criticism than praise.  I read a great quote about this, “Criticism is easy. Anyone can do it. It takes special grace to be an encourager.”

Some people think the way to recognize people’s accomplishments is to give them money.  Certainly, it CAN make sense to use money as a reward for good work, but it’s not the ONLY way.  Sometimes the best way to  recognize someone’s work is through intangibles.

I read a story about a high achiever who received so many plaques and other awards that they had lost their meaning. When it came around to the annual sales meeting, his manager arranged for his family to be present when he was presented with his latest plaque for top performer.  Having his family share in the experience meant more to him than the plaque he received.  His manager was astute to see that the reward system was losing significance for this employee and, by reaching out to the employee’s family, he learned just what was important to this employee.

For my sales teams, I used to go around, shake their hands and say, “Way to go!” whenever one of them landed a new account. In my monthly report (which I shared with my sales personnel), I kept a chart that showed rankings for new account development in dollars and in numbers of accounts developed. There wasn’t a prize for being at the top of the list, but the competitive nature of sales people meant they wanted to be as close to the top of the list as they could.  Maybe it’s not just coincidence that our Division was the most profitable division of 22 business units in our company.

Most people don’t expect to receive a gold star or plaque every day. I think the majority are just hoping to hear someone say something like, “Nice Work!”, “Good Job”, or “I really like how you did that” Giving praise like that, on a regular basis, is not that difficult to do.  If you’re not doing this now, try it for a month to see what kind of response you get.  You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised.

Keys to Employee Engagement: 3. Opportunity

So far, we’ve learned how to establish a Base Camp for our journey to engagement by ensuring employees have a clear understanding of their job responsibilities and by ensuring they have the resources they need to perform at their best.

The next four questions focus on factors that can really motivate people to perform their best.

The third question in the Q12 is “At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best each day?”

Square PegEvery employee has a unique set of talents and skills they bring to the job.  When the talents and skills a person has are aligned with those most valued in a particular occupation or job role, we would expect the employee to perform well and be happy.

Creative people are stifled when they are placed in roles that have highly regulated procedures to follow.  Likewise, someone like an accountant might feel lost working in a creative role because it lacks the structure they’ve come to be comfortable with.

Sales people are often characterized as being behind on reports, expenses – paperwork in general. Perhaps, in some cases, it’s because they don’t have strong skills in Excel or WORD to do these tasks efficiently. Assuming they’re great sales people, they are most effective and productive when they are in front of customers.  By overloading sales people with burdensome reporting and record-keeping, we are actually preventing or limiting them from doing what they are really good at.

As managers, we need to make the job fit the people occupying the roles so they’re doing what they do best. Ask employees what’s holding them back or making them most frustrated about their jobs and either find a workaround or a way of minimizing the time spent doing tasks they do poorly.

Training people to fit a job role has some limitations. You can train and develop skills but, if the talents required for the role are not there, no amount of training will fix this.  If you have to do too much fitting of the people to the job role, it may be a sign you don’t have people with the right talents or the job is not a fit for the people you have.  Either way, you have to change something.