With so many managers out there trying to figure out how to improve employee engagement metrics, it's no wonder that we have gotten nowhere with the problem. Why? Well, (cover your ears managers) that's because most managers are actually not that good at solving problems. They over-analyze and under implement.
But let's be fair. This isn't just a management issue. It's also an employee issue. If your company has embarrassing engagement scores, it's likely because nobody is even trying. Your employee's likely show up, give the minimal effort required to keep their job and collect their pay, and then they go home. Is that the managers fault? No. Is that the employee's fault? No. Wait!... So who are we blaming here? Everybody!!!!
Ok, lets shift gears for a moment. Let's say for example that I own a professional sports team. I have gone out and hired the most qualified coach, and drafted the most talented players. Does that mean that we are destined for a championship? Of course not. It is well known in sports that teams require time to build chemistry, and trust in the process. Players respond to their coach and generally respect them, but they don't always agree with them. And that's ok. Players and coaches are willing to put their differences aside in order to achieve more. Hearing that the players called a players-only meeting to handle performance issues or locker room drama is normal. Why? Because they are a team. And they trust that that what is said in that locker room doesn't leave the locker room. They work out the issues and emerge stronger for it. But hold on a second...isn't that kind of like being engaged employees?
When was the last time your employees held a staff meeting without their boss? Probably never. At work, if employees did that, we would either think that they are unionizing, ready to strike or trying to get the boss fired. Why is it not ok to call out employees who are actively disengaged? Probably because we have never been taught how to do it properly. Professionally. We leave that up to our boss to handle. Employees in an office are not always playing on the same team. But they really should be.
Ok, so what does all of this have to do with employee engagement? Well, everything. What we celebrate in sports we ignore at work. It's a weird line to draw. We all know what it takes to assemble a championship team. But then we are ok with ignoring those exact same traits at our job. Part of being engaged is simply understanding your role on the team. Owning your part of the playbook and delivering when it matters. Your boss is on the sidelines. They can't always affect the outcome of the game. They can only coach you and make sure you have the tools and training to succeed. The rest...well that's up to you to perform when the lights come on.
Too often I feel that employees take a knee and listen to their boss with no intention of ever running the play. That's where their peers need to step in and make it known that this is a team, and it is not ok to walk on the field and not participate. But for this to ever become a reality, we need ultimate trust in the locker room. People need to feel safe. High performing teams have this trust. Highly engaged teams have this trust. Does your team have that trust?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree that employee engagement is a team game? That individuals need to be accountable to their peers, not just to their manager? Leave a comment and start the conversation.