If the majority of the people
behave the same way

the majority of the time,

you have a system problem,

NOT a people problem.

Authentic Engagement Cycle

This cycle shows how to authentically create an employee engagement system that will help your people THRIVE and become evangelists for your company.

Employee engagement can be measured by numbers but is 99% heart-driven.  When you engage people at a deep, belief and values level, you have something special

So how do you create a system based upon emotion?  Because let’s face it – what we care about is fickle.  Our ‘hearts’ change – look at the divorce rate.

Look at your turnover rate.

Some of that turnover is circumstance – moving, involuntary, health, retirement, etc – but a massive amount is voluntary.  A person’s heart has changed regarding working at your organization.

The #1 reason a person leaves a company is their boss.  And not because the boss is so incredibly awesome the person just can’t stand it any more.

Question:  How do you create a system around this kind of craziness?Overview - Details
Answer:  With great care and a focus on what is best for the person.

Each section of the Authentic Engagement Cycle must receive focus from leaders to ensure the right system is in place to achieve the desired results.

CAUTION:  Without real support from senior leadership, your employee engagement will fall flat and actually do more damage than good.

The key word here is ‘Authentic’.  If your organization, and specifically your top executives, are 100% numbers-focused and mercenary with zero empathy, make sure THAT is what is represented in your system.  You will attract and retain exactly the people who will fit well.  There are many people like exactly that.

Make sure your authentic beliefs and values are fully represented in your system.

The VERY WORST thing that can happen, and is unfortunately very common, is when you have a leadership team that says things like, “Employees are our #1 asset!” but are really only focused on the bottom line and cut employee benefits every chance they get, for example.

Your beliefs and values must be represented at each stage of the cycle.  Yes, that was repeated on purpose.  If your organization’s deepest core beliefs and values are unknown – just a cliche on a banner – your system will never work correctly.  You MUST have clarity in this first.

Begin at any step in the cycle but you must ensure that each step in the cycle is represented somehow.  If it is clear you are missing a piece, work on that first.  It does not need to be perfect right away.  You just have to have something in place at each stage.

Your Authentic Engagement Cycle will never be static.  You will never be finished.  The process of examining step and refining your system is continual, as it should be.  The individual heart changes, right?  So does your organization.  Your Engagement Cycle must change along with it or it will no longer be ‘authentic’.

Click on the image to view it in more detail.  Or you can begin reading in more depth beginning with SPARK!

Read more about each stage of the Authentic Engagement Cycle:

Spark : Ignition : Engage : Enable : Empower : Sustain

Case Study #1

I recently helped a mid-sized company with their Authentic Engagement to decrease turnover.  Reading through the Glassdoor reviews, as well as the exit interview notes, associate (employees) satisfaction scores and some random interviews.  It became very clear that 1 of 2 ‘realities’ were occurring:

  1. You LOVE this place!
  2. You HATE this place!  “If you don’t ‘drink the Kool-Aid’, you will be left out.”

Two immediate steps were taken:

  1. Changed the recruiting dramatically so you are attracting those who ‘drink the cool-aid’ – SPARK!
  2. Changed the onboarding – IGNITION – so the company values are reflected immediately – delivering upon the promise during recruitment

Both of these changes were fairly easy once the focus was placed upon them and we had data-driven metrics to help us make decisions.

Recruiting became easy and fun (was also VERY goofy), which was a big part of the culture, and they continually attracted the right people – the ones who loved ‘goofieness’ – and kept the right people as many people were included in the recruiting process.  This slowed down the recruiting process dramatically, specifically the interviews, which was cause for concern initially.  However, as retention skyrocketed, the need for constant recruiting dropped dramatically as well, saving the company time, money and emotional drain.

Onboarding was the best, and more difficult change.  The onboarding became more focused on what mattered and involved more of the associates to run it, not HR as is typical.  The result was far more dynamic as the ‘goofiness’ factor was fully encouraged.  This meant that the current associates were continually ‘onboarded‘  as well – take another drink of that Kool-aid.  IGNITION!

Unintended results:
Having people in the company who hated the culture was a horrible strain on those who loved the culture.  The culture soared when only the lovers of the culture remained.  New sales increased as well as retention of clients because living the culture extended to company clients.

There was still work to do in the Authentic Engagement Cycle for this company – specifically job targeting to get the ‘right people on the right seat on the bus’ and creating a natural Corporate Social Responsibility initiative – but having the right people in the company launched them into greatness.

Case Study #2

Company A had an incredible employee engagement program and their people LOVED working there.  In fact, it was almost impossible to hire away their employees, for promotions, for more pay or for any other reason.  They had all the WONDERFUL statistics that come with high engagement – revenue growth up, higher profitability, high customer satisfaction, low turnover, etc.

A competing company, Company B wanted those wonderful statistics that comes from high engagement.  So they decided to buy it!  Company B was able lure an employee from Company A away to ‘install’ the employee engagement strategy for them.

All the correct pieces were put into place and Company B executives rubbed their hands together, just waiting for the awesomeness to pour in so they could show the results at the next quarterly report.

It was a miserable failure.  There were two problems:

  1. Employees knew the executives didn’t really care about them because of a long history of conflict, poor policies and trust was extremely low.
  2. The culture of Company B was completely different than Company A.  Even if the problem above didn’t exist, it would have been like installing an IPhone app on an Android phone.  It just won’t work.

You cannot buy your way into a great system that values your people.  You must create it authentically and work on refining it endlessly.  There are companies that are fierce and merciless, truly Darwinian where only the strongest thrive – think ‘Wolf of Wall Street’.  Be authentic to who you TRULY are and create a culture to attract and reward the people who already like you.  Trust me, they are out there!

The WORST mistake you can make is not creating a culture at all.  Trust me, a culture exists but is the more informal ‘how we do things around here’.  DO NOT fall into this category as you will never get the right people, will never authentically engage them and you will never know why!

You have to get a LOT right.

Right person + right job + right manager + right team + right culture
= Legendary

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