Master Change, Master Engagement

What are the key factors for employee engagement? I and others have written at length on this topic. I believe one key factor for employee engagement is creating an environment in which employees want to engage through strategic appreciation of employee efforts. But there are many factors that feed a truly engaging environment.

Recent research completed by Right Management shows how well change is managed in an organization is also a significant contributing factor. In fact 94% of employees who say change is not handled well in their organizations also report being disengaged. On the other hand, of those who believe leadership manage change well, only 40% are disengaged.

Among other key findings in the report, best performing organizations were reported to manage change nearly four times more effectively, while organizations that do not manage change well are four times more likely to lose talent.

Clearly, change is a powerful force within any organization. Lack of or unclear communication of objectives and expectations is one major reason for change to fail within in organizations. Employees need to know where you’re headed and how they contribute. Such simple messages are often lost in all the other talking points around any change initiative.

Strategic recognition is a powerful communication mechanism in a change management process, serving as a tool to positively and clearly communicate what is expected and desired from employees and then encouraging them to repeat those behaviors. Recognition of effort also conveys to employees how much they are valued and appreciated, especially during a potentially confusing and frightening change.

What are other key factors you see contributing to employee engagement? Do you agree with the findings of this research (of nearly 30,000 employees in 10 industries in 15 countries) that failure to implement change well is a significant contributing factor to disengagement? Have you recently gone through a major change in your organization? What was your experience?

2 comment(s):

At November 16, 2009 2:36 PM, Nicole Cundy said...

Mr. Irvine, Thanks so much for the post. This is certainly an interesting study and I agree that change must be managed well to ensure employee engagement. The question becomes, how do we manage change? Below is a simplified version of the process behavioral psychologist use to manage change:
1. Pinpoint result
2. Pinpoint ee behaviors that will lead to desired results
3. Track the number of occurrence in which the employees exhibits the behaviors needed to bring about change and track results
4. Give employees feedback on their contributions to the change
5. Work positive consequences into the workplace for ees that implement the behaviors that lead to change. Rather than focusing attention on branding, focus on consequences (positive consequences for change implementation and negative consequences for all other behaviors).
6. Evaluate the process and make changes as necessary to achieve pinpointed results.
As a side note, it is imperative that management does not forget that change may not be a motivation issue but rather a training issue. We should all ensure that employees are properly trained to do the behaviors that lead to change.

What challenges do you see with this approach?

At November 16, 2009 2:46 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Nicole, steps 4 and 5 are so critical and often ignored or not emphasized enough in change efforts. Too often, employers will just announce or institute a "change" without any kind of context, communication or reinforcement in the daily work lives of employees (the most meaningful for true "change" understanding).

This post talks about this point further: