Are You Engaging?

Employee engagement as a measure just won’t go away. The basic idea is that the more engaged an employee is, the better the contribution.

But engagement is just one factor in generating results for a company. An employee has to have the skills to do the work, the freedom to do the work, and the clear direction for the work you want them to accomplish.

Train Coupling – The Iron Handshake

At a recent family reunion, someone pulled the old Lionel Train set out of my sister’s attic. There are lots of memories associated with those trains from the 1950’s. At the time we played with them we also lived near train tracks and you could count on being stopped every once in a while when the trains were going through. It always amazed me that one or two big engines pulled that whole collection of cars. And since I had the toy trains, I knew how the trains were coupled. A simple device on the end of each car that, when pushed together, locked the cars in a sort of iron handshake.

That’s engagement. In fact, that’s the word engineers frequently use about couplings. A coupling is engaged or not. The two cars are joined together or not.

Do you really need to measure if your employees are engaged? Can’t you look at engaging behaviors and see if you are doing the things that make the iron handshake mutually reinforcing?

It is important to do pulse checks, to know how your employees feel about their work, their leaders, and each other. At the same time, you should know what your engaging practices are. Whether your engagement score is in the 80’s or in the 20’s, you should not be surprised. The real question is, in my opinion, “Are you engaging?”

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