Employee Engagement – Inspiration or Intellect, whats your answer?

I spend a lot of my time talking to people about employee engagement. I do this not only because I run an employee engagement consultancy, but because I enjoy it and it matters. It matters to me and, for 20 years now, I’ve had the joy of helping others to see why it matters to them as well.

So, you can imagine my frustration, when I’m confronted by people telling me it doesn’t work! They’ve read that recent research by….. has shown that….. % of the workforce of whatever country, sector or business is still not engaged despite all the effort and money that has been ploughed into engagement over the past couple of decades!

This statement is often followed by a look of incredulity, and despite being a pretty emotionally intelligent chap, it puzzles me. It’s as if they’re trying to tell me that it’s my fault or expecting me to have some sort of magic wand that’s going to make it all go away….

Unsurprisingly there is no magic wand, and it’s not all my fault, but I do have a level of experience in all this that helps me to explain why I think this might be the case, by asking you to think about 3 things.

1 – Think about who runs your business?

Think back to when you were at school. You may remember that us kids were described as either ‘arty’, ‘intellectual’ or ‘sporty’…. With a few notable exceptions, I would say that a clear majority of the organisations I’ve either worked for, or had as clients, are run by ‘intellectual’ people. Intellectual types are good at running organisations and businesses as they think things through, base decisions on facts… most of the time, consider all the things that they’re supposed to think about and weigh up the pros and cons.

Who runs yours?

2 – Think about what inspires you?

Now, think back again and remember someone you’ve met who’s inspired you, someone who made you believe in yourself because they showed a belief in you, someone who inspired you to achieve something that you didn’t think possible. Or perhaps someone who you’ve never met but still draw inspiration from, admire or whose values you base yours. How does it feel when you think about that person?

Are you inspired by ‘arty’, ‘intellectual’ or ‘sporty’?

3 –  Think about ‘The Gap’

The conclusions you drew from the first two steps are yours and yours alone. Others may agree or disagree but for you they’re right. Now, consider that it’s estimated that over 60% of the world’s population makes decisions based on what they ‘feel’ rather than what they ‘think’, and consider the relationship between feelings, emotion and engagement, and you start to see ‘The Gap’. Most of this 60% is not going to be inspired or engaged by the intellectuals of the world, they’re inspired by artists, musicians, sporting achievements…. things that make them ‘feel’, things that create emotion. This ‘Gap’ is where I believe at least some of the answers lie in why engagement isn’t developing in line with the effort that’s put into it in many organisations. Put simply, there’s a gap between the efforts of the engagement programme and the people running it and what the people they’re trying to engage find engaging, big chunks of the 60% aren’t catered for.

How big is ‘The Gap’ where you work?

The size of ‘The Gap’ is why in many organisations engagement is not growing as fast as some people think it should and certainly not as fast as it could.

The answer, in my experience, is individual and unique to each organisation, but there is one constant.

Organisations who we work with, who are truly world class in their employee engagement programme, understand one thing very clearly. They understand that engagement is not about ‘doing’ engagement but about developing and supporting its managers and leaders to understand what it takes to ‘be engaging’ to each unique member of their team.

We’re not saying that every manager needs to pick up a paint brush or a musical instrument, but they do need to find out what engages the people they’re trying to engage.

If you’d like to find out more, and mind ‘The Gap’ where you work, then get in touch.