You Will Not Engage Every Employee – Nor Should You
Every person you hire is talented, motivated and capable of contributing at a high level. If you actively engage them, and permanently onboard them, you will get great results from their work.
Hiring is art rather than science, however, even with the explosive growth of objective assessments and well-structured recruitment processes. Here are just a few factors that keep you from the mythical goal of 100% engagement:
- You will hire people who end up as awkward fits in your culture. This lack of fit erodes engagement and contribution more often than lack of employee skill.
- You will employ people whose motivations change over time; they no longer fit the role they currently fill.
- You cannot always find a place to move misfitted people within your organization that will rekindle their passion and productivity.
- Some employee turnover always occurs, which resets the engagement process at ‘start.’
Given these factors, leaders need to adopt a mindset that “full engagement” might hover around 80%, not 100%. However, as you cannot predict which employees will end up in the 80%, your engagement initiatives remain universal.
- You don’t pick winners ahead of time. Everyone is invited to engage in their work at a higher level.
- You challenge employees to fulfill their end of the engagement bargain. They should agree to actively pursue opportunities to engage. This is very much a two-way street.
- You respond strongly to their efforts to engage. (Team leaders need training on how to respond constructively – Do not leave their responsiveness to chance!)
- You find out who the most disengaged people are, and give them a clear path of improvement. They must clearly understand what good performance should look like, and how they can meet that standard. Departure is not your mandate, but their option.
- You don’t try to save every employee: You let the stubbornly disengaged leave.
In my experience, as the majority of your workforce raises it level of engagement, the strongly disengaged will find themselves in a culture much less to their liking, and will find it more comfortable to find a new opportunity where being engaged and productive is less prized!
Your mission as a leader cannot be 100% engagement. It is an impossible goal to achieve. Structure your employee and team engagement program to actually raise your engagement levels into the 70- 80% range. You will find great improvements in productivity, innovation and profitability.