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10 Steps That Ensure Employee Engagement Success


10 Steps That Ensure Employee Engagement Success

Improving Employee Engagement is not the product of one initiative. Organizations need a framework to achieve significant improvement in engagement. Sequencing and content of the initiative are critical, as is communication.

There have been many traditional approaches to improving Employee Engagement, including Leadership Training, Company-wide ‘Programs,’ Learning & Development and other such initiatives.

Given the experiences of the traditional approaches outlined above, most organizations struggle to shift Employee Engagement more than a couple of percentage points. In discussing this with CEOs, as well as Human Resources and Organizational Development Executives, it became clear that new approaches were required to create a significant shift in Employee Engagement.

With old or new approaches, the factors that need to be addressed remain the same:

  • Job Importance: An employee needs to know how their job is important to the organization.
  • Clarity of what is expected of them: Employees need to know what their manager expects of them.
  • Career Advancement: Employees want to know that there is a fair and equitable system for career advancement and that, if they perform, they will be considered for advancement.
  • Improvement and Reward: Employees want to make improvements to the organization and, if they do, would like to be compensated where possible (a reward and a sincere thank-you).
  • Regular Feedback: Employees want to know when they, the department and the organization are doing well (or not so well).
  • Good Relationship: Employees want to communicate with their manager, even if the news is not good.
  • Clear values: Employees want to know the values and behaviors that will be looked upon favorably; they don’t want to be left in a vacuum to guess.
  • Good Communications: Employees want to know what is happening so they’re not the last to find out important information.

In order to address the above needs, the solution needs to incorporate all of the above factors – and then some. The following is a 10-point outline of a comprehensive solution that addresses each of the major influencers outlined above.

1. Define and Map the Strategy

Organization leaders need to be clear on what they are trying to achieve before they communicate this to the organization. If the Level 1 Strategy (Organization Level) is not well defined, then leaders need to conduct a Strategy Workshop where Executive Management defines and refines a clear strategy. The Strategy needs to be converted into a Strategy Map. This Map is a pictorial representation of the Strategy showing dependencies and relationships of the major parts of the Strategy. Most people understand a picture far better and have much more information than from a complicated, written strategic plan.

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2. Define Values, Behaviors and Measurement Criteria

The Executive and Management teams need to determine the values and behaviors they believe are important to the organization. These need to be clearly defined and unanimously supported, as well as clearly articulated so that they can be readily understood. Executive Management needs to define what part values and behaviors will play in employee evaluations or reviews. If employees aren’t going to be evaluated on these values and behaviors, then management is wasting its time defining them. The Executive Management team needs to decide on the weighting for these values and behaviors in employee reviews.

3. Conduct Strategy Mapping in Every Major Business Unit

Each Department must complete a Strategy Map with each employee being allocated a part of the Strategy. This might sound difficult, but in practice it’s not. Once you complete Strategy Mapping in each department or work unit, employees know their part of the plan. You have now achieved the first influencing factor of Employee Engagement – Job Importance. Each employee now knows what is important and his or her part of the plan.

4. Create a Performance Management/Talent Management System

Set up an automated Performance Management and Development system. Ensure the system has the capability for regular feedback, at least monthly. This is the platform that will deliver the clarity of role and communications aspect of Employee Engagement. The Talent Management component should enable an objective way of short-listing potential candidates for promotion. This is also the platform that will deliver the Career and Succession Planning component of Employee Engagement.

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5. Link Incentive Compensation to the Outcomes of Performance Management

To achieve the Reward component of Influencing Improvement and Reward, link compensation to Performance. Whether it’s a salary increment, bonus, or some other compensation consequence, there needs to be some linkage to compensation to achieve and satisfy this component.

6. Set Objectives Based on the Department Strategy Map

Each Manager should sit down with their team and discuss each employee’s role in achieving the Strategy Map. Objectives are set with each employee and each employee understands his/her part of the Strategy, how their work is important and how other employees and managers rely and depend upon their work.

7. Make Every Manager Accountable

If your Performance Management system is capable of delivering a quick touch-base progress review each month, this becomes easy. Managers sit down with employees for 10-15 minutes each month and do a quick update. The Performance Management system should restate a summary of the employee’s objectives and values and behaviors. After the meeting, managers should record progress in the system. Note that Communication will require more than just one-on-one meetings with the manager or CEO. Internal communications will need to be planned at regular scheduled intervals as well.

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8. Conduct Career/Succession Planning

Design a communications program that will advise all employees that Succession Planning will now be based on merit, not just who someone knows or who plays golf with whom. This Talent Management System should be able to produce a short list of employees based on objective criteria, for example:

  • Career Aspirations MatchQualifications
  • Historical Performance Rating
  • Potential Rating
  • Competencies Match/Rating 
  • Mobility
  • Age-Based Retirement
9. Foster Positive, Supportive Relationships

This is a factor that is not as easily achieved by any single initiative except that improvements will have been made through: :

  • Clarifying purpose – managers will interact with staff in the Strategy Mapping phase.
  • Setting Objectives – Managers will spend time with their staff while setting objectives. They can no longer avoid staff contact.
  • One-on-One Meetings – Managers should be required to conduct 10-15 minute touch-base meetings to share progress on projects. This ongoing communication helps to improve relationships between employees and managers.
10. Communicate Constantly and Consistently

At every step along the way, employees must be clear on how they are connected to the organization strategy. They specifically need to know their part of the plan and they need to see that their part of the plan is important to the organization.

Excerpted from “Employee Engagement: A Silver Bullet,” by Lyle Potgieter, Chief Executive Officer, PeopleStreme. Copyright 2010 by StratACHIEVE, the US-based affiliate of PeopleStreme. For a copy of the complete 8-page report, go to

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