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Q&A with Armers Moncure on employee engagement

May 19, 2011
Armers Moncure

Armers Moncure, Vice President and Senior Training Consultant at Cook Ross, Inc. delivered an insightful presentation as part of Linkage’s diversity and inclusion webinar series on Increased Employee Engagement: An ROI of Diversity & Inclusion.


Following the live webcast, a question came in asking:

How do you really increase employee engagement so that the employees appreciate your effort, and the organization benefits?

Here is Armers response:

The first step is to ensure, and understand the following:

  • How is employee engagement defined in this organization?
  • What do we want to address, and how will we measure the results? 
  • How will it benefit both the individual and the organization?

Once those are defined, then the proper diagnostic checks must be completed.  These include but are not limited to engagement assessments, climate surveys, focus groups, interviews with highly engaged and disengaged employees and other methods to better understand the external, environmental, and cultural conditions that impact engagement.  It is also of great value to explore the internal behavioral, attitudinal, and interpersonal factors that may be hindering performance.  This phase will generally cast light on the employees that genuinely want to give more, get more, contribute more, and increase their connection to the organization.

I strongly recommend involving an employee cohort (focus group) into the process of deciding what types of interventions they and their colleagues will respond to, e.g. training, e-learning, keynote speakers, team building activities, etc.  When designing the interventions in terms of methodology, not content, allow for some employee input.  Where possible, involve their participation in promoting, communicating, getting their colleagues excited about what’s coming, as well as “inspiring” employee participation.

Build the interventions ensuring the key drivers of engagement are foundational.  This increases the odds that the design will “move the needle” for the majority of those that participate.  When done this way, with staff promoting it as well as leadership, it becomes easier for them to “buy-in”, and less necessary to “mandate something”.

The whole point of allowing employee input on the front end is to ensure participation throughout and to ultimately have them take ownership of the engagement initiative(s).  Make sure the staff knows WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) and how the organization wins also—in that order.

Understand that there will be a segment of the population that will refuse to “shift” or “get on board”, they will insist on staying the same, and may resist even harder against anything new.  Not every employee wants to excel in his or her role; some people are so pessimistic they don’t believe they can really enjoy their work.

For these people, keep the following possibilities in mind:

  1. They are in the wrong job, i.e. not paying to their strengths.
  2. There’s an irreparable conflict with a team member or direct manager.
  3. The department or company is not the right fit or place for them.
  4. They might be happier; more engaged somewhere else (another department or company), doing something else (another job).
  5. Sometimes the best option for all involved is to part ways, voluntarily or involuntarily.

In the end, a vital question that must be asked and answered, “Who’s primarily responsible for an employee’s engagement?”  Is it the company, the manger, the employee, or all of the above?   The answer is not all of the above, although they each play a key role.  Here is how I see it:

  • The organization enables engagement by recognizing its importance, delegating responsibility to whom or what department “owns” it, and allocating resources/funding to address it.
  • The manager supports engagement by helping the employees know their job expectations, giving regular feedback/coaching, praising successes, and by caring about them and their career development—just to name a few.
  • The employee holds the primary responsibility for his or her own level of engagement, which is determined by their attitude toward themselves, their career, and the company; their desire for meaningful work by making a contribution to something larger than themselves, to feel as though they and their work really matter, and the want/need to expand and grow personally and professionally.

For the employee, these are very intrinsic motivating factors that have been found to generally apply across the board.  As this field of engagement continues to evolve, we will begin to learn about engagement drivers for specific segments, e.g. generational, LGBT, ethnic groups, the disabled as well as drivers for individuals, but we’re not there yet.  Until that time, set the intention to create work environments where all employees feel comfortable contributing their unique gifts to the organization, where all are valued for who they are, and work toward cultivating a culture engagement where bringing your whole self (head, heart, and hands) –“Is just how we do things around here.”  The process of doing these things is definitely not a waste of time.

Interested in learning more? Watch Armers’ May 12th webcast on Increased Employee Engagement: An ROI of Diversity & Inclusion.

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