Monday, May 5, 2008

The Battle Cry for Employee Engagement

I had read an article written by Chris and Mel Wildermuth, titled the 10 M’s of Employee Engagement (Training and Development, January 2008). The subtitle noted that Workplace Learning and Performance Professionals need to be engagement champions. The article demonstrated 10 M’s of engagement to help create engagement-friendly organizations. It appears that consultants and the management experts have turned this engagement crisis into a movement and should be uttering a battle cry much like “Remember the Alamo”. It seems we are losing the battle of employee engagement and have the American worker is now totally apathetic in their jobs. Also, it appears that we are fighting for our lives to keep engagement strongly entrenched as a core value of any company or organization. It is now our responsibility to make sure that our employees, leaders, and customers are engaged. But wait, hasn’t that been our responsibility for decades?

Whose responsibility is it to do that? Is it the Human Relations or Resources Manager responsibility? OR is it the CEO and the senior executive team that should do that? Like the article noted in the previous paragraph, it starts with an “M” or “MM”, which of course stands for manager or middle manager. The most critical ingredient for employee engagement is the front-line manager. It has been reported that a 5% increase in employee engagement results in a 2.5% increase in growth. In this era of “do more with less”, the employee who freely gives that extra effort if most valued by their manager.

It’s time for HR Professionals to march directly into the C-Suite and state that they need to train and develop their front-line managers and tell them that these people are the most important component of our plan for sustained growth. We must get our managers to connect the dots between strategy, culture, performance, and motivation. These front-line managers are the future leaders of the company and they will make the difference in the future of the company.

We have to allow our front line managers to:

  • Be responsible for employee development and talent management

  • Be able to challenge the employee’s abilities and teach them the skills to expand their strengths

  • Be able to communicate openly providing clarification for the employee

  • Be goal-oriented and provide focus on their contribution to the overall success of the organization by coupling the outcome to the strategy

The skills and competencies of the front-line manager will provide the sustained growth and innovation need in this highly competitive marketplace. Communication, forward thinking, prioritization, and other skills must be learned and applied in the workplace by managers if we can expect to improve employee engagement. Employees need a manager who is willing to provide an “open” communication platform that includes feedback in a timely fashion, candid discussion on performance and appropriate behavior, a willingness to clarify expectations and use metrics to measure results, and to include the employee in the awareness and planning stages for the company’s vision.

We have to get away from telling the employee what they have to do, but why the company’s success is so dependent on them performing at the highest level of commitment. Train and motivate the manager, and the employee will be part of the team.

Join us May 19 12-1pm for a Lunch N Learn on Employee Motivation. Registration is free and we provide lunch. More Info.

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