Want to increase Employee Engagement? Start by resolving the 5 most common disconnects that are the result of conventional strategic planning approaches. These disconnects lead to Presenteeism instead of Engagement, which can account for as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. How will we get there?
  3. How do I fit?
  4. How am I doing?
  5. Am I in flow

blog 3 intext photoThe old Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver illustrates the presenteeism and lack of employee engagement that’s rampant in most organizations. You can watch the full movie on Youtube for some fun leadership lessons.  The movie begins with the former cast having been reduced to reprising their old roles at fan conventions and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for shopping centers.  Allen is beamed aboard an exact replica of the TV spaceship constructed by an alien race (that he mistook for fans in costume) who need his help to deal with Sarras, an outer-space bad-guy.

When he returns to Earth to rally his co-stars to “go save the galaxy,” (at about minute 23), they give him “the look.”

You know, the one you’ve probably seen when you try to engage your own team in a grand new plan.  Resistance, skepticism and complaining follow – sound familiar?  They beam aboard but are literally dragging their heels as Allen gives them the tour and describes the mission.  However, they think it’s a paying gig, so they reluctantly agree to go along with it.

What finally gets the crew on board – literally – is when the evil Sarras re-enters the picture and the goal to save the Galaxy becomes very real, very personal now that their own well-being is at stake, and very urgent.  They soon find themselves fully engaged in working together as a team, full of creativity, ingenuity, and commitment.  In true Hollywood style, the once-actors rise to the real-life Challenges and eliminate the bad guy.

There are two powerful takeaways from this spoof: 

  1. The need to create a powerful shared goal (not a conventional vision statement) and shared values that provide a sense of hope is especially important for Gen X, Gen Y, and Millenials, who want to engage in work that is meaningful and consistent with being part of a community and the world at large.  Nothing happens without moving people beyond skepticism and activating full-on engagement to do important work towards a meaningful goal.  If your goal is a conventional ho-hum mission or vision statement, your first step is to develop a purpose or what I like to call a Legendary Outcome that is much more compelling and has everyone putting skin in the game.
  2. The need to replace Management-developed To Do lists with space for your team to apply their own ingenuity as they build trust and support with each other, so that they have a sense of ownership, take initiative, and truly drive results. Tools such as Theme Statements and Focused Performance Indicators create the game plan and clarity on where the company is at, where it’s going, how it’s going to get there and how it’s doing.  That clarity provides a sense of confidence in the leadership that replaces any grumbling from your rank and file who often wonder if those in charge really have a clue.  Whether there’s good news or bad, employees can take credit for helping to make it happen or feel part of finding solutions, which fuels Engagement and Retention.

Increase Employee Engagement is a Process, Not an Event

Building Employee Engagement and Retention cannot simply be another program.  It needs to be a process of creating clear strategic priorities and making every employee feel proud of the contribution they make.  When I work with clients, we use tools I described in the previous blog post, The G.R.O.W.T+H GPS, and The G.R.O.W.T+H Gameplan to map out a game where everyone wins.  Theme Statements, FPIs, and the PACT process for managing accountability and performance mean that employees can accurately self-evaluate.   With these tools, employees ‘just doing their job’ will evolve into a fully-engaged culture based on getting the right people eagerly collaborating to reach compelling corporate goals.

#1 Bestselling Author, International Speaker, and Accelerator Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more – in less than one year, in less time per week than they’re spending on email per day. Her new book Profit in Plain Sight includes the 5-step proactive P.R.O.F.I+T Plan to do it.  Connect with Anne on Twitter and LinkedIn.