Since the beginning of this year, we have been fortunate enough to travel within North America to conduct training seminars and presentations for various industries. The common theme of interest we have found is that organizations want to find ways to strengthen the leadership within their organization and increase the commitment and engagement levels of their team. Ultimately the two are interconnected as great leadership drives employee engagement. In order to increase the commitment level of your team, the most impactful thing you can do is invest in your leaders. John Maxwell said it best “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development”.
Research clearly shows that leadership is a competitive advantage and that organizations with an engaged workforce outperform those with non-engaged workforces (and are better places to work).
Although the concept of Employee Engagement has been around for a while, few organizations have any idea how to effectively measure it and improve it. Most organizations focus on measuring the outputs of engagement, not the inputs. For a great perspective on that, read Brad’s blog: The Employee Engagement Fad.
According to research by Dale Carnegie, 84% of how employees feel about the organization is directly related to their immediate supervisor. The relationship we have with our leader has the greatest impact on how we feel about coming to work and ultimately about the organization. The problem? Being a great leader is difficult. It takes time, and continuous effort. It takes being deliberate and intentional about all your actions.
So, what can you do to focus on leadership in your organization and ultimately drive engagement?
If you don’t already, start measuring engagement and leadership effectiveness. Get clear data and direct information about what your leaders are doing well, and insight into where leadership has opportunity to grow. Ensure the questions you are asking are meaningful to the areas in which leaders have a direct impact, and that will truly impact engagement (your corporate social responsibility program is a great perk, but it doesn’t increase the engagement level of the team).
Use the data you have obtained to provide tools and support to your leaders. That may mean a focus on leadership training or perhaps one-on-one leadership coaching. It could also be a review of their deliverables and responsibilities to ensure they have time to lead and that leadership is not something done off the side of their desk.
Finally, in order to ensure you are truly moving the needle forward, measure again! This is an on-going process and having accurate and timely data will continue to help you ensure your leadership team is getting the information they need to be successful.
Ultimately, as mentioned, it comes down to leadership. And at the end of the day it’s Senior Leadership Human Resources role to place people in leadership roles who have the skill set to lead people, give them the tools and support they need, provide them with time to lead, and ultimately hold them accountable to actually lead! As a leader or HR, are you doing your part to build commitment and engagement in your organization?