Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” That is a powerful call to action for the human race. Well, the same applies to business leaders seeking to make change in their companies. Organizational change cannot occur if leaders and employees are not fully engaged.
Unfortunately most people are not engaged in what they do every day. In a telephone survey of 1,000 employed adults, Gallup found that almost one-fifth were actively disengaged from their work. Other research found that 55 percent of employees surveyed considered themselves “disengaged” with another 19 percent stating it more strongly, describing themselves as “actively disengaged.” This disengagement is estimated to cost the United States economy $400+ billion in lost productivity every year.
To evoke new and different feelings and drive action, people must see, understand, and believe in the changes they need to make and how they fit into the larger strategic picture. Every person at every level of the organization needs to know that they are an integral and valued part of the organization before, during, and after the change in order to make it happen and to sustain it.
The path to employee engagement starts with bridging the gap.
One of the greatest reasons people fear change is because of the unknown territory that accompanies it. It’s unrealistic to think employees will confidently participate in change if their leaders are sitting on the sidelines simply directing them to jump headfirst into change without them. When undertaking an organizational change, leaders need to step outside their own comfort zones and bring their employees with them, actively showing them that the unknown is not to be feared but embraced.
The Disengagement Canyon represents the gulf between leaders and employees and their connection to business- critical issues. There’s a huge chasm between senior leadership’s view of a company’s vision, mission, and strategic direction and what the people in the trenches doing the work perceive. Companies must face this reality head-on in order to build the necessary bridges. Several components can help accomplish this:
• Visualization enables big-picture thinking and making connections between oneself and the grand scheme more quickly.
• Dialogue empowers people to discover the answers in the paradoxes that challenge every business.
• Interactivity allows people to see the consequences of their actions and thinking and to share, examine, challenge, and ultimately, change their assumptions.
• Measurement involves defining key performance metrics, which helps people understand how you keep score in the business and see how their actions are connected to results.
Critical Engagement Points
For change to be successful, it must be clearly defined, aligned, understood, and sustained. To do this successfully, three key engagement points must be addressed.
1. Engaging leadership by strengthening alignment on the strategy – A large number of executives do not believe the new strategy they created will actually work. Getting the entire leadership team on board with a new strategy is vital before taking it to the rest of the organization.
2. Engaging everyone in the big picture business understanding – Every level of the organization, from manager to individual contributor, needs to understand where the company is going and how they can help make it happen.
3. Sustaining engagement by keeping the visuals and continuous dialogue alive – Change does not happen immediately, continued communications and follow-up are vital to seeing it through to the other side.
Engagement Means Everyone is in the Game
When a coach puts his players on the field before a game, the plan for the entire game has already been prepared and practiced. Everyone has a role, but the coach and the team know that no single player is perfect. Shots might be missed or passes may be incomplete, but there is no way to stop the game at that point. The team that prevails is the team that is not only focused on the outcome, but also has the ability to adapt to the circumstances encountered along the way.
When the strategy or the change is announced, that is simply the signal to start the game. As it progresses, and people understand the desired outcomes and processes, everyone will engage and evolve so that adjustments and adaptations seem natural and lead to achieving the common goal.
Engagement is not one-dimensional. It’s found in sports, friendship, and through all facets of life. It can be effortless, natural, and magnetic – when done well. The same is true for building employee engagement across your business. When employees feel they are part of something big, feel welcomed and part of the process, believe they are on a meaningful journey, and are helping to really make a difference, engagement comes naturally and effortlessly.
This is the essence of true biz success! The very core of it
Very informative article. Engagement is the key to more functional and successful relationships. Thanks for posting!!! By the way, how was $400+ billion calculated for lost productivity every year?