Employee Engagement: Moving from Analysis to Action

Employee engagement is at an important crossroads. After years of conducting engagement surveys, organizations are finding that improving employee engagement is a lot more difficult than measuring it. And while surveys have initially helped organizations to identify areas that needed to be addressed, an inability to make progress in these key areas has turned optimism into cynicism in many cases.

Organizations need to shift their focus says Bob Freytag, Director of Consulting Services for The Ken Blanchard Companies. It’s time to take action.

“Stagnant or declining engagement scores tell you that leadership fundamentals are missing,” explains Freytag. “Putting those fundamentals in place requires time, focus, and a strategic shift. In this case, delaying action does not make things better. You only take the problem you’re in now and keep digging the hole deeper.”

Freytag’s advice to senior leaders?

Paraphrasing American humorist Will Rogers, “When you find yourself in a hole that you don’t want to be in, stop digging!” Surveys provide an opportunity to listen to the voice of the people in the organization. And most of the time, when leaders ask, people will share what needs to change. For leaders, the next step is to take action on what is learned.

“Engagement surveys create a dynamic tension between what is and what is possible in an organization. The best leaders lean into those needs and become sponsors and champions of change. Sometimes the conversation will identify that you need new processes and programs. Other times, it may just be better alignment with programs and solutions that you already have in place.”

Strategic and Operational Leadership Practices

One of the important findings in The Ken Blanchard Companies’ research into the Leadership-Profit Chain has been the identification of how strategic and operational leadership practices impact employee work passion and overall organizational vitality.

Strategic leadership is the “what” that ensures everyone is going in the same direction. Strategic leadership includes activities such as establishing a clear vision, maintaining a culture that aligns a set of values with that vision, and declaring must-do initiatives or strategic imperatives that the organization needs to accomplish. Operational leadership is everything else. It provides the “how” for the organization. It includes the policies, procedures, systems, and leader behaviors that cascade from senior management to the frontline employees. These management practices create the environment that employees interact with and respond to on a daily basis.

Interestingly, the research found that while strategic leadership is a critical building block for setting the tone and direction, it has only an indirect impact on organizational vitality. The real key to organizational vitality is operational leadership. If this aspect of leadership is done effectively, employee work passion will result from the positive experiences and overall satisfaction people have with the organization.

Address Issues Directly

If leaders are effective in creating the most energizing environment by engaging in the most needed strategic and operational behaviors, employees will respond with better perceptions and feelings about their jobs and the organization. This leads to a sense of well-being that translates into positive intentions to perform at a higher level in contributing to the organization’s overall success and vitality.

“But leaders need to address issues directly and not be vague or ambiguous,” cautions Freytag. “Help people see a clear path ahead and address what is possible. Also recognize how important you really are as a leader. Leaders often get in the groove like anyone else and they come to work, they execute against their list of responsibilities, and they forget the importance of their role.

“It’s important for leaders to remember that they are always having an impact—you have no choice in that. The only choice you have is what that impact will be.”


Would you like to learn more about the leader’s role in creating an engaging work environment? Then join us for a free webinar!

The Leader’s Role in Creating an Engaging Work Environment
Recorded on November 19, 2014

Leaders have an important role in creating the conditions that allow employees to perform at their best. In this webinar, Bob Freytag, Director of Consulting Services for The Ken Blanchard Companies will look at three ways that leaders can help improve engagement scores in their organizations.

  1. Improve Communication. Learn how to build trust, set goals, and provide feedback in a way that builds employee confidence, competence, and commitment.
  2. Improve Collaboration. Learn how to break down silos between different work units to support teamwork and accomplish work objectives.
  3. Provide Support. Learn how to identify employee needs, access resources, and empower employees to take responsibility for their individual roles and tasks.

Who Should Attend

  • Senior leaders looking to solve complex business issues, achieve measurable results, and develop leadership capacity to improve productivity and performance
  • HR and OD professionals focused on the design, management, and strategy of learning and development in their organizations
  • L&D decision makers evaluating learning programs and leadership models that build values, skills, and competencies that help people and organizations lead at a higher level

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn actionable strategies that you can use in your organization and with your team immediately. Improving engagement scores requires a team effort. Learn about the important role a leader plays in creating that type of environment.

View On-demand