A day seldom passes without more doom and gloom about employee engagement levels worldwide.
The story is usually the same – workplace democratisation yet declining levels of trust in leadership. Technologies driving faster personal communication and so-called social media yet dramatic falls in face time. But the same critics point out that, in the face of the worst ever economic slump, lowering productivity and even lower morale, engagement is vital for innovation, customer service, health and well-being.
At the turn of last year, we brainstormed the root causes of disengagement based on what we’d witnessed recently and found that many organisations are struggling with major issues of separation. These issues of separation are manifesting themselves in ways we’re sure you’ll recognise:
1. Separate messages and message makers with their own agendas. This can be at operational/country/brand level and will be exacerbated in merger and re-structuring and other change scenarios
2. Separate functional departments (often silos) competing for who owns the brand and the communication radio station, who are not operating to a unified vision and not using a complementary set of tools to integrate messages and media in the best interests of building brand value
3. Separate stories pasted together in an attempt to present a unified culture but often delivered in a journalistic fashion. They aren’t embedded anywhere, no-one is managing the overall narrative nor is it an involving process. It reeks of what Ed Robertson of Fedex used to call SOS or “send out stuff”
4. Separate employee and/or customer service programmes creating temporary engagement spikes or patching over business issues but often dragging morale lower once the smoke has cleared.
5. Separate channels and processes such as intranets or podcasts or eLearning for training
6. Separate and broken/outdated tools for “top-down” briefing and “bottom-up” on-going feedback like Team Briefing while technology solutions like Sharepoint and Facebook are meant to plug the side-to-side gap but are usually viewed as a threat by senior management
7. Separate research exercises occurring as annual or bi-annual disruptive and provocative events. The outcomes are seldom timely and line managers struggle to know what to do without a strategy that engages them first and foremost.
8. Separate styles of leadership/management where values and culture development is seldom at the fore and mentoring skills are seen as distinct from the core competencies. They are also seen as the preserve of separate departments and not owned by the line.
9. Separate communities inside and out where internal activities are carried out in splendid isolation and not joined up under one brand with one vision and voice. Corporate Responsibility often falls victim to this.
10. Separate perceptions about the nature and importance of employee engagement leading to a confusion about strategy, solutions and approaches.
Any of this sound familiar?
Well, despite the chatter, it’s not entirely doom and gloom everywhere. We know from past and very recent experience that the first step towards addressing the engagement gap is to start by practising what you preach and facilitating a collaboration between the brand trilogy.
But more about that when we return with Part 2……