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Notes from the Sage Summit 2019 session on employee engagement by Joe Rotella

When is the last time you had a great annual review? The current HR thinking is that you’ve probably not had one, and you probably won’t ever have one. There is a trend moving away from static annual reviews where goals are mandated from management and then reviewed after 12 months. The way to get away from this is to manage goals differently, work on them collaboratively, and measure them along the way.

Further, the baseline for having successful reviews is having meaningful employee engagement. Harvard Business Review says that 71% of people surveyed said that employee engagement was critical to a company’s success. The numbers prove this out. Three-year revenue growth was 2.5% higher for companies whose employees describe themselves as engaged.

What is employee engagement?

employee engagement

Engagement is the extent to which people feel passionate about their jobs. This is distinct from both worker satisfaction and workaholism. Just because an employee pulls long hours doesn’t mean that they are engaged. Engagement must be cultivated. Engagement isn’t just going out to lunch and giving employee year-end bonuses. Engagement must stem from an individual buying in to the organization’s vision, mission and values. If this is in place, then employee appreciation programs are gravy- they build on and support the infrastructure that exists.

Everyone at your organization should know what your goals, mission and values are. The vision should be set by a leader, and the leader is responsible for bringing her team along. Then, managers should work with teams to set SMART goals. When we can make measurements along the way to track our progress toward the realistic goals, we’re increasing employee engagement and re-emphasizing how accomplishing goals gets us closer to the vision.

It’s also helpful for each person to have job descriptions that are regularly updated. What are the competencies needed, knowledge and skills required from each of us? Is there a path for development for each of us? And how can we align each of these three things:

1. What I know
2. What I’m Good At
3. What the Organization Wants Me To Do

Ideally, these three things overlap. If they don’t, what can we do to align them? People like to know that they have a future. Taking time to make this happen can synthesize personal and organizational goals.

Getting Started

Finally, just remember to start somewhere. The Buddha said, “A jug fills drop by drop.” With each drop we get closer. You don’t have to get everything done at once, but if you can make small progress toward engagement regularly,  a transformation is possible.

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