A quick-fix from some new management fad does not ensure employee engagement.
True employee engagement comes from the organization’s culture. Culture stimulates employees to invest and involve in the work they do, how they do it, and why they do it for this company.
Organizational culture is the personality of an organization. Culture is comprised of assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization members and their behaviors. (Free Management Library, managementhelp.org)
The specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization. (Strategic Management, Hill & Jones)
Conscious development of a business culture starts at the top, with the leader(s). An engaged leader does not have just an attitude of engagement. She demonstrates her very own engaged behavior.
Leaders engage in all aspects of their roles as leader.
A leader has vision. That ability to see what the organization can/should become distinguishes a leader. The leader can engage imagination and intuition with his knowledge and experience to clarify the components of why, who, where, when, and how.
A leader inspires action. By communicating vision and steps to attain the vision, a leader inspires the actions required. While seeing may be believing, speaking (clearly, powerfully, and often) leads to realizing.
A leader leads people. That leader, then, engages in interacting with, knowing about, appreciating, and understanding the people who make up the organization. Tom Peters’ idea of managing by walking around was all about the manager being visible. A leader engages people in discussion, interaction, Q&A…even disagreement.
A leader identifies and defines “engagement” for the organization.
A leader asks what comprises the entire work identity of an employee. The work identity in which one engages is more than just her job. An individual’s total work identity may encompass
- Job as defined.
- Job as performed.
- Career surrounding the job.
- Participation in a team of which the job is an element.
- Organizational role and identity that are more than just the job.
A leader determines if those components contribute to the organization’s purpose and values. Meaningful leader involvement means asking of the organization’s members-especially the management team–questions such as, If an employee engages in career-development, does that positively affect the organization?
A leader then engages in knowing/learning how to create a culture supporting each employee’s attention to total work identity, work identity that has meaning for the employee and benefit to the organization warrants engagement…and a culture that stimulates such engagement.
A leader activates the culture of engagement.
A leader enrolls his managers in realizing an engagement culture. This is conceptual and practical. Managers must understand and buy into the value of engagement. They must also conduct everyday management activities in ways conducive to continuous engagement, theirs and their employees.
A leader ensures constant and concerted appreciation of engagement throughout the company. Please note the complementary meanings of appreciation: 1. Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things. 2. A rise in value … especially over time. The leader’s commitment to recognition of individuals’ engagements causes yet more engagement.
A leader remains engaged in the Vision-Communication-Interaction sequence. The success of an organization’s employee engagement is neither a one-time-only effort nor a quick fix.