Three Truths of Employee Engagement – and the Lie You’re Telling Yourself

Last week while on a flight to LA I reread Patrick Lencioni’s “The Truth about Employee Engagement.” In the introduction of the book he shares a quote by author Samuel Johnson, “People need to reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”  I thought, this couldn’t be any more true!  Trust me, I too need reminders to do what I know! Today’s newsletter is to remind you to focus on your greatest asset, your people.

I’m hoping by now you know employee engagement isn’t just a soft subject, and yet most organizations still aren’t willing to budget for employee engagement.

But I have news for you!  If you’re struggling with recruitment and retention and you’re losing money on agency costs, OT, and countless hours to the hiring process, you do have a budget!  That is, if you choose to reallocate some of those dollars on engaging your team members in the work that they do! It will help you keep your best employees which of course also increases productivity and so on.

If you’ve never read “The Truth about Employee Engagement,” or if you need a reminder, here are Patrick Lencioni three root causes for job misery.

  • Anonymity: People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known.
  • Irrelevance: Everyone needs to know their job matters.
  • Measurement: Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves so they can be fulfilled.

Here’s how you can take action at your organization and put what you know into practice:

  1. People Matter! If you have ever heard Denise share the story of Martin Bayne, a man living in an assisted living, then you should know never to let your residents feel invisible.  The same holds true for your team members.   Get to know your people!  Find out what is important to them.  Ask them why they got into this field. Find out what drives them and what gets them out of bed in the morning to come to work. If they happen to share personal information, like their son has a hockey game this weekend, GREAT, ask them how it went. Set a goal of getting to know even just one team member a little bit better this week.
  2. Work that Matters! To those of us who treat work as more than “just a job,” guess what, our work matters.  To someone. To anyone. Likely to you and the people you serve. Help team members connect to the impact of their work. What’s the higher purpose of the work to be done?  While visiting a client I met an amazing woman who is a house keeper and has been cleaning linens for decades.  She takes great pride in her work because she is there “for the people.” She talked about caring about the community members and while speaking about one resident in particular, she said “when she is sad, I read a verse or two to her from her bible.” This woman clearly knows that her job isn’t to wash linens it’s to provide a safe environment for the residents she cares so deeply for.  
  3. Measurement Matters! I can hear my Intro to Marketing professor from my sophomore year of college quoting Peter Drucker on the first day of class, “”If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” This is true, however not everything measured matters. Whether you’re working as a team towards a set goal, or setting individual goals with your team members, employees need to feel connected to the goal.  They need to know that what they are working towards is something that has value and that their actions have an impact on the outcome.  Next time you’re meeting to discuss goals try to connect them to the vision of the company – that is – if your vision is more than just a message written on the wall.

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This article was written by team member, Allison Duda.