Execution Flaws: The classic engagement failPut a group of human resource professionals in a room and ask them if they have been reluctant and frustrated co-conspirators to any of the following and you will get almost universal head nods:
Paradigm flaws that lead to flawed, or non-existent resultsEngagement surveys, even with comments, give you only the tip of the iceberg — When employee engagement surveys are seen as the be-all-and-end-all source of important information, employers miss out on a huge amount of valuable, actionable information that can only be elicited through in-depth, one-on-one interviews. Furthermore, these interviews can enable you to:
Courage flaws that lead to hiding behind surveysMost people find giving and receiving feedback anxiety-producing. Most managers would choose checking excel spreadsheets for errors over having to discuss difficult issues with an employee. Anybody who has been in the work world for any length of time has witnessed, if not directly experienced, how letting fear trump doing what’s right ends up resulting in toxic people and toxic cultures destroying morale and compromising productivity. Hiding behind a survey to gather data rather than being willing to face one’s anxiety about having candid conversations, is one example of Conversational Cowardice that has huge repercussions. That being said, merely admonishing or requiring managers to have ongoing engagement conversations is not the answer. People fear the things they don’t believe they can effectively respond to or cope with. If managers don’t have the skills required to bring up touchy issues in a way that doesn’t trigger defensiveness, if they don’t have the ability to manage their own discomfort or de-escalate others, why would they willingly have conversations that might evoke strong emotions and responses they don’t know how to handle? Thus, for managers and employees to have effective ongoing engagement conversations, managers need to have the training and coaching that will enable them to effectively facilitate these conversations. Investing in helping managers have these skills that make these conversations work, might be the most important intervention an organization can make to improve employee engagement. A brief recap and recommended next steps You don’t want another year to go by where you sink time, money, and social capital into another employee engagement survey followed by “solutions” that don’t move the engagement needle, do you? To “stop the employee engagement survey madness,” share this article with your management team and use it as a conversation starter.