Think Small to Engage Employees

2013-07-26 10.31.20This excellent article by Forbes Magazine provides a good summary of the dire state of employee engagement in America. I’m not in America but I think the situation they describe is spreading across the globe.  I’ve a little experience in this area and one perspective that I’ve never heard suggested which I thought I would share.

Most of the engagement issues we hear about relate to big enterprises and their response is typically at the enterprise level, they:

  1. Conduct global employee engagement surveys
  2. Invest in corporate branding exercises
  3. Encourage more senior management communication
  4. Sponsor more corporate events
  5. Invest in and celebrate outstanding performance
  6. Standardise processes and tools

I’m afraid very little of this seems to result in increased employee engagement in my experience.  Is there any hope?  Well I think there is, I think enterprises need to recognise that most employees feel part of a team first, a department second, a division third, a country fourth and an enterprise last.

If enterprises focussed on providing more autonomy to team leaders, managers and building managers to design working practices, building layouts, incentive approaches that suited the type of work that their people were doing, that encouraged the type of culture that was appropriate to them, progress would be made.

Let me get specific:

  • I find it difficult to understand how a common enterprise culture can be effective for a contact centre in India, a agile software development team in the US and a Datacentre management team in the UK. 
  • How can common office standards be relevant to a floor of senior executives, a team of software developers, a floor of tele-sales workers and a team of consultants
  • How can a single reward and recognition system work for people who process trouble tickets, design new products and do multi-million dollar deals.

I’ve some experience in this, I’ve built 3 significant teams in my career, but each was very different.  The work we had to do, the type of space we needed, the tools that we used, and the skills and dynamics within the teams were all unique.  I was fortunate enough to be able to build these teams the way ‘they’ wanted, but in the era of engagement managers seem to have less flexibility than I had as the CEO seeks to establish ‘their way’ as the only way.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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