This is part 2 of a 12 part series on engagement everywhere.
The wheel of engagement represents an array of 10 different engagements for organizations. Today, we'll look at the first slice from the wheel: employee engagement.
I believe we've reached a stage in employee engagement where we're asking those involved — such as HR professionals and consultants — to be more discerning.
Discernment is the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently. We don't suffer for a lack of information and resources. In fact, we can easily get lost in the blizzard of daily information so we're actually blind to seeing our way. What we need now is discernment.
Here are 6 ways you can enhance your discernment when it comes to employee engagement.
1. Keep focused and don’t let information overload cause you to abandon engagement.
We have more companies, tools, and consultants entering the employee engagement space every day. You can watch 140 new videos about employee engagement each week on YouTube. And even on weekends there's a new Twitter update on employee engagement just about every minute.
Know the results you're trying to achieve with employee engagement. Know the information you need to help you achieve those results. And avoid getting sucked in by the flurry of white papers, videos, blog posts, discussions, and updates.
As Herbert Simon said “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Keep focused by being discerning about what you attend to.
2. Abandon the search for the ONE definition of employee engagement.
There seems to be as many definitions of employee engagement as there are people working. Use discernment to reach behind the phrase "employee engagement" and ask what a person means when they use that term.
I loved experimental psychology's requirement to use operational definitions so that everyone had clarity about how a term was defined. Operational definitions identify one or more specific, observable events or conditions in a way that anyone else can independently test for them.
Be more operational in what you mean when you say employee engagement.
3. Be skeptical without slipping into being cynical.
We're being thrown a virtual dart board of statistics on engagement. Everyone has a business case for why their approach, program or intervention will improve employee engagement.
Be skeptical of what you hear, see, and read about employee engagement, while not becoming cynical about our ability to engage employees.
As a quotation attributed to a number of different thinkers including Richard Feynman advises: “it is good to have an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.”
4. Cease your benchmarking mentality; get off of the bench and into the game.
Ditch your dependency on what everyone else is doing in engagement, and put your best research, guesses, and hunches to the test.
Discernment encourages us to move from best case to test case. Create small experiments or tests to examine engagement ideas, tactics, and approaches.
If the experiment supports your engagement hypothesis move to scale, if not, fail fast and move on.
5. Keep an eye on the UK.
The Engage for Success movement continues to grow in the UK based on four "enables" they identified for engagement: employee voice, organizational integrity, engaging managers, and a compelling narrative for the organization. They're moving towards engagement fused with wellbeing and transformational engagement.
Develop your basic level of knowledge and discernment by using Engage for Success as a regular source of study.
6. Develop a laser-like focus on engagement.
Back in January 2008, I wrote ten principles of engagement that are just as relevant today.
Here's a key principle for employee engagement: Employee engagement is specific. We cannot sustain engagement all the time and everywhere. When we talk about engagement we need to ask: Who is engaged, with what, for how long, and for what purpose? When you think about engagement make sure you're asking and answering this question.
Be more discerning about employee engagement
Henry Ford stated that “thinking is hard work, it’s why so few people do it.”
Approach the remainder of 2014 with an increased level of discernment. If you think about it, your thinking may be the key to a more successful approach to employee engagement.
I encourage you to read the first post in this series, Employee Engagement Everywhere: The Wheel of Engagement at Work, and to follow along for the next 10 months. Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.
Your turn: How will you be more discerning about employee engagement this year?