Friday, June 07, 2013

Do you care? How to increase employee engagement

In this Fast Company interview, Gallup's Jim Harter comments on the sad state of employee engagement in American corporations.  According to Gallup's research, only 30% of the U.S. population is engaged in the workplace, i.e. deeply committed to their jobs.  52% of the employee population is disengaged, and 18% is actively disengaged, meaning that they are "actively against what the organization, and their boss, is trying to get done."  Those statistics are rather alarming. Some companies, of course, have begun to focus intensively on employee engagement over the last decade.  Harter comments on what leaders need to do to increase employee engagement:

So, what are the qualities of leaders that businesses must now be seeking? According to Harter, it begins with a combination of being results oriented and authentically concerned about the development of every worker. “Some people are better at getting results and some are better at developing. But, we’ve found both are equally important.”  Harter describes the most effective managers as being deeply caring--and capable of seeing, supporting, and adjusting to the differences in people. “They help people build jobs that fit them as an individual person, while still helping them get to the outcome they need from an organization perspective.”

Authentically concerned - it's such a simple, yet powerful idea.  Think about what makes great professors or teachers.  Beyond simply knowing the material or being able to explain concepts clearly, great teaching is about showing students that you care.  My colleague, Jane McKay-Nesbitt, has this great saying about teaching: "They must know that you care before they will care what you know."  The same principle holds true for leaders.  People will not follow you if they do not believe you care about their well-being and development.  Engagement starts with authentic concern. 

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