Today, I want to talk about employee engagement, what it really looks like, and what it requires from you. Engagement is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “being present at a particular time and place.” For our staff to be present at work, they must be actively involved in understanding and working on the business not just in it. However, most managers, executives, and owners we work with seem determined to keep their employees on the outside looking in. Organizational consultant Warren Bennis stated, “Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone in the organization feels that he or she can make a difference in the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel centered, and that gives their work meaning.” I would suggest this makes them engaged and present each day.

I think there are three key aspects that help bring your staff into the heart of things.

1. Teach Employees About the Company Objectives

Employees must know and understand the objectives of the company. This helps provide purpose to the worker. As Peter Drucker said, “Management by objectives works if you know the objectives: 90% of the time, you don’t.” Owners and executives need to stop thinking their people don’t need to know or won’t understand what the objectives are all about. It is outdated thinking. By ensuring that staff knows the current annual objectives around finances, market share, customer satisfaction, their own satisfaction, and community engagement, they can be brought into the discussion about how to reach those objectives and what part they and their department play in contributing to the company’s success. I think it is also important that individual and department goals are aligned with the company’s so everyone’s efforts are going in the same direction.

2. Share Scores and Feedback Regularly

Once your staff knows the objectives, you now must share the scores and feedback with them on a regular basis. Each employee must know the measurements by which success, concern, or failure is deemed. Create a company scorecard that is easily read and understood by all. This can then be drilled down into a departmental scorecard that is more relevant to your immediate staff. Ensure the scorecard is updated and reviewed each month. By sharing the scores, staff are aware of overall company performance which helps direct conversation and communication about achievements, concerns, and required improvements. It is important that individuals and departments know how they personally and collectively impact the company scorecard. Some departments will have more impact to drive revenues, help customers, or manage expenses. It is important that staff know the part they play in overall company performance. Managers can then engage their people in the process to improve the scores.

3. Involve Staff in Improving the Business

Finally, it is important that companies and departments require all staff to be responsible for helping improve the business. Whether individually or as a team, expect everyone to consider how they can improve their individual or department scores and help achieve their goals. All departments should have an action plan that outlines the steps to be taken to improve results. Remember, an objective without a plan is just a wish! I encourage you to ensure that you have a single action plan template for your company. It is amazing in our work how many times a company has multiple templates at work, making the process of compiling and having a single action plan very difficult.

It is absolutely critical to make sure your employees know your objectives, understand the scores, and are working on a plan to improve. That is what engagement really is—employees being present and understanding how their efforts make a difference and have a purpose in your company.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my book, Culture Hacker, available now.