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What Is More Critical To An Organization…..Employee Engagement or Employee Performance?

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This question was asked on the LinkedIn Employee Engagement group.  It is interesting that the person posing the question sees them as distinct, when in fact one is dependent on the other.  The level of performance in a company is dependent (not exclusively) on how engaged employees are when they arrive at work.  The real answer is if you want better performance, you should focus on how to increase engagement.

Employee engagement should never be seen simply as a tactical initiative.  There are tactical things an organization can do that contribute to higher levels of engagement (e.g., better recognition programs, more frequent feedback, rituals of celebration), but engagement is more related to core ideology, and culture.

And if you need a short term boost in performance, then “employee engagement”, as a tactical option, is a poor choice.  Precisely because workplace engagement is an outcome of specific steps taken by a company that then delivers increased performance, profitability, and customer loyalty.  But it takes time, to be sure.

One other point I would add since engagement has been aligned with organization culture — early on we focused too much on culture and got burned.  Here is why.  You can do all the right things related to aligning the core values and cultural aspirations of an organization, but the weakest link is typically the managers.  If managers and supervisors are not given clear expectations and skills around what it takes to sustain engagement within their work groups, then systemic efforts on the organization’s culture are seriously compromised.

Someone told me “employees join companies, but quit managers.” And sometimes they quit managers and stay on the payroll, which is the most prolific recruiter of what we call the “actively disengaged,” that comprise 5-15% of typical organizations.

So yes, the organization’s culture is the right place to start, but focus as well on how you are going to help your managers get on the right track.

BEST PRACTICES TIP:  If you want to increase performance, get a better understanding of WHY higher levels of employee engagement contribute to better performance.

NOTE: This post is adapted from an earlier post on LinkedIn.

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