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Increase Employee Engagement By Focusing On The Big Picture…Not Just The Individual Employee

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Below is an edited excerpt of a LinkedIn discussion which I recently participated in.

There is a currency of thought in the management consulting business that wants to “blame” the individual worker for a wide range of problems (like employee engagement, morale, bad attitude, etc.). “We control our own destiny” is the basic theme. This belief is delusional and very damaging to effective and sustainable efforts to create a high performance culture. I’m a firm believer in the power and efficacy of individual effort, responsibility, accountability, and the like, but even the “ideal” employee (for example), will be worn down and corrosively impacted by a toxic manager or workplace culture.

No one lives in isolation, so a singular focus on the individual in any effort to improve organizational culture is doomed to failure. The true leverage comes from a multifaceted approach on the individual, the manager, and the culture. Each is mutually dependent on the other.

Let me give you an example from some client work. In this case there was a focus on ethical behavior of employees. Lots of education on what it means to behave in an ethical way. Great stuff to be sure — every org I’ve ever worked with needs help here to some degree. But the singular effort focused on the individuals elevated the general understanding of what it means to be and act ethically — and the practices of management and the company were now clearly seen to be out of integrity with the lessons learned. The result was a net negative as the raised awareness of employees revealed an ethically compromised organizational structure. Ouch.

We are hard-wired at a neurological level to have safe and secure connections with others so the patterns and norms of behaviors in an organization are seminal. The challenge here is that few organizations have a clue on what to do to use this universal truth effectively in the workplace. Those that do figure it out will be tomorrow’s big winners.

BEST PRACTICES TIP:  There are many ways employees come to a judgement about how “just” their organization is.  Focus on those factors to increase engagement.

To view the entire LinkedIn discussion, click here:

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Engagient provided a safe environment for managers to openly share comments, issues and concerns related to the workplace culture and practices. Facilitation and careful probing by Engagient staff provided our managers with the view and challenges facing senior leadership and how managers may be helpful in the process, identifying opportunities to enhance their leadership skills.

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