Kevin gives his top tips from the front line on what drives employee engagement success.
Day-to-day work at the sharp end of employee engagement will ring some bells with anyone involved in managing a business.
Consider the following list of real life projects: a pharmaceutical company needs to transform the way in which its commercial teams and scientists work together; a global accountancy firm has to move its talent around the world to meet client demand, while one of its competitors radically reorganises its back office to fuel growth in emerging markets; a broadband infrastructure provider must ensure that tens of thousands of engineers understand that attention to detail equals job security; and a small business loses customers as fast as it can find them because of customer service.
These are real business challenges with commercial ramifications and a common denominator: people.
What have I learnt after 20 years in the business facing
challenges such as these? Lots of theory and five tips for turning
theoretical fluff into tangible results:
1. Never lose sight of the business outcome: Many engagement efforts come adrift because, somewhere along the line, the focus shifts from the results that behaviour and attitude change will deliver. Be relentless - if it isn't helping to achieve the outcome, hit the brakes and refocus.
2. Look at the big picture - together: Information silos and functional turf wars are a fact of life. The key is to get brand, marketing, human resources (HR) and communications to play better together. When any one of them starts to believe that it "owns" employee engagement, alarm bells should ring. Getting it right for your people is, more often than not, as much about marketing, IT and corporate communication as it is about HR.
3. Keep it simple and actively manage "air traffic control": Business today is complex and change is constant. You need to inform, involve and inspire your leaders, managers and line employees. Get it wrong and bewildered employees face a barrage of "important" (and completely disconnected) messages day after day. No wonder they stop listening. Stick to three or fewer themes in everything you say and do.
4. It's about human beings: Admit this - people don't get out of bed in the morning to achieve your corporate vision. Most won't be inspired by increasing your share price. What will fire them up is grasping what it means to them if the business is winning. So aim for the heart (and perhaps the wallet). It's how most of us actually make decisions.
5. Do it "with", not "to" people, and sustain your efforts: People are far more likely to get stuck into plans and programmes that they feel part of. To make change happen, make "engaging people" part of the planning process, not an add-on. Maintain your efforts - rare is the issue that will be solved by one big bang, however explosive.
This article was published in The Sunday Telegraph Business Reporter supplment - Power to the People