When it comes to engagement, remember your leaders

So you think engagement as an HR or communications issue? Then think again. Engagement is a business issue. Which means the people who need to be spearheading it are your leaders and Board members. Once they understand the clear relationship between engaged people, engaged customers and increased profits they soon become the biggest engagement champions!

And we’re not just talking senior ‘C suite’ leaders. We also mean line managers and shop floor supervisors. They all have a part to play in engaging people, and the earlier they’re involved in the process, the more successful an engagement project will be. What’s more, the more ‘two-way’ communication can be between employees and leaders, and between employees themselves, the better.

Gone are the days of ‘command and control’ leadership communications. Successful leaders are using dialogue to source ideas from the front line about how to deliver change and what will engage their people. Highly engaged organisations create 360 degree communication, upwards, downwards and across their organisation – even on a global basis – using social business networks. These give employees the freedom to support each other, learn from each other, and cross-sell, regardless of geography, time zone or department.

Such open channels are helping to rebuild the trust in leaders that has taken a battering during the recent scandals that have beset the political and financial sectors. Wise leaders are also using the personal touch to rebuild trust: going out and having one to one conversations with their people.

Justin King at Sainsbury’s is one well known example of a leader who really lives engagement. But there are less high profile examples too. We’ve worked with a company called Transfercant, a supplier to the building trade, whose CEO, Geoff Cooper, works quietly in small sessions, connecting with employees and translating their feedback into the company’s strategies.

It’s these people, who actively seek out ideas and feedback from their people, who win hearts and minds – and drive engagement and performance.


By Dr Andy Brown
CEO & Practice Head: ENGAGE Leadership