How to win at the employee engagement game
Commitment drives results.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? When your team is more engaged, you get better results. But it turns out the reverse is just as true, if not more so.
Results drive engagement.
When I was producing my hit comedy TV show in Seattle, my team and I looked at the ratings every week. It was a source of pride for us to have been number one on our schedule for ten years in a row. Seeing the numbers there in black and white (and right next to the lower numbers in our competition) led us to continue to excel.
Were the qualifications the only thing that kept our commitment and our abilities? No way. There was a friendly competition between the staff (we all wanted to make the rest of the team laugh), there was the joy of practicing our arts and crafts, there was the response from the live studio audience every week. Those were all good incentives for compromise.
But the numbers gave us a way to keep track.
We all like to support a winning team. But even more, we all like to play for a winning team. That was true for my team and also for yours.
But here’s the catch: To be excited (and engaged) playing for a winning team, your team members need to know that they are winning. And to know this, you have to know three things:
1. They have to know what the goal is. In basketball, the goal is to pass the ball through the net. Remove the net and you are left with a group of tall people bouncing a ball on a wooden floor. The network provides the objective, the focus. What is the specific objective of your team? And I mean specifics. “Doing better” is not a specific goal. Doing better at what? And how much better? When
2. They have to know what the measure is. Let’s go back to that basketball game and take a look at the scoreboard. There may be a lot of information up there, but at the end of the game, the only measure that really counts is the number of points. In my world, the measure that counted was grades. In virtually all cases, it comes down to a number. What is the number that it will measure? Number of units shipped per week? Percentage of income increase? Number of sales calls per day? Calculate your number and make sure your team can see it quickly, easily and consistently.
3. They have to know what they are measuring against. If you’re playing on that basketball team and you know your team scored 48 points, is that good or bad? Well, you have no way of knowing, do you? The number 48 doesn’t make sense until you know how many points the other team has. If you have a marker at your workplace showing that your team shipped 5,000 widgets this week, is that good or bad? Depends. Was the goal 4,000 widgets or was it 10,000 widgets? Your team should be able to know, at a glance, how they are doing against the competition (and the competition could be a self-imposed target number).
A committed team produces results. And the results produce a committed team. But only if the team knows the results and what those results mean.