Employee engagement, a test of leadership, special guest Anna Mamalaki

Leadership impacts employee engagement in the evolving workplace of today.

In spite of this being a hot topic, the issue is a common one across countries. The commonality is that the figures are pretty poor all across the globe.

Employee engagement is a direct result of the quality of leadership. Given the way the employee engagement figures are, that only means the quality of leadership is not great. Today’s society demands a much more different leadership approach. Given that technology is transforming how we deal with every moment.

Employee engagement is much more than having good communication, work involvement, and nice events. Great engagement is engraved by things that have to do with leadership, the values of the corporation and how things are being done.

What is mooted as behaviour and what is not?

It’s much more of an involvement with the leadership and organizational development than other disciplines like communication. Which, of course, is absolutely necessary but we tend to misjudge leadership with communication. There needs to be good leadership then comes good communication.

It’s up to leaders to connect with people and connect is through communication. If one doesn’t connect then one is just throwing words and the recipient might as well read a book! If leaders connect well there will be good employee engagement.

The term ‘experience’ is better used instead of engagement. It has a connection and connotation with customer experience. It is what people really experience within the workplace that matters. We need to have a holistic approach in order to see what the structures, processes and leadership development need areas are to create a good workplace experience.

In today’s business environment, to be effective, organizations rely a lot on the behaviour of its employees than compared to the past. Today the technological revolution urges us to utilise it to unlock new sources of value and to achieve its improvements are needed very quickly. Those organizations that are able to do this quickly enough will not lose in the marketplace. Those who lag are in real danger. The technological transformation occurring has created an organizational revolution in the form of creating autonomously functional teams that work with agility and similar work models and they have a very fast pace of exploring the problems, delivering solutions through quick iterations. In such a work environment, the existing work models need a huge shift from the past.

With different generations coming into the workplace the expectation of and from the workplace has undergone significant changes. Whilst societal behaviour may be the same the organizational structures in place don’t work due to the technological changes that have come about and which dictates a new structure.

Nowadays there is no place for the command and control model of leadership. The role of the manager today has evolved to provide context to the work not the content of the work.

It’s the human aspect. It’s the behaviours that matter.

Unfortunately, organizations have not yet quite translated what this shift really means in the way of operations. This shift drastically changes how things are being done. This is where, how leadership and leadership development is practiced, has a significant impact.

When behaviour matters most but at the same time data is so much easily accessible, by everyone, it changes the way learning is done. Courses are now available everywhere and allow for learning from anywhere. So learning is no longer the objective of development but it’s much more the growth that one can ensure for employees.

That growth becomes the molded thing. It means how will the team enable the employee for success.

What are the enabling factors?

Does the workplace include or offer challenges to the employee in order for him or her to put their skills into practice?

Does it include clear values for the work?

Does it include constructive and unbiased and authentic feedback?

Does it include encouragement to help the employee try new things?

Lastly, does it include respect for the employee and his or her believes and what the employee may have to say?

This is what leadership development is. It’s not learning anymore.

Previous generations for various reasons stayed in the jobs yet were not engaged. The younger generations are honest and straight-forward and vote with their feet if they are unhappy. What happens with voting with your feet is that if leadership is not performing then all the good people leave. They leave because they can get another job and what’s left, as a talent pool, are people who can’t get another job. So basically, the organization ends up with a less skilled workforce.

With 5 generations in the workforce, this kind of change creates a lot of frustration and leadership crises. This turmoil of change does not allow to provide the content of work, but the context, and that requires a behaviour change, which is a huge shift behaviourally. This demands an upfront ability to cope with such change. Coaching helps a lot in order to support the development of behaviours needed but it’s not enough. At the same time, there needs to be processes and structures that are the behavioural models required because everyone needs to know what is the real value expected from them through their work.

This creates a common language within the teams and within the organization. Lots of organizations realize that it’s not enough to have the values on a wall, but it needs to be the behaviour to impact the culture.

To get all this in place processes and systems are important to enthuse all the necessary behaviours and to monitor them so that they really happen. That’s what is done in organizational and leadership development. All of these need to work together in order for the music to flow.

It’s all about people.

Connect with Anna at https://twitter.com/AnnaMamalaki


About the author, Ross

Behavioural leadership coach committed to bringing more soul into business and reducing a leader's stress in managing their people

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