Engaged Employees–4 steps to finding your “pockets of excellence”

At a recent conference in Richmond, VA, I had a chance to conduct a workshop with 160 Legislative Clerks and Secretaries.  It was part of a week-long National Conference of State Legislatures.  The topic for the morning session was Creating an Engaging Work Environment. In an exercise during the session, I asked participants to remember a time when they were the most engaged in their work environments.

Participants thought back over their past and present experiences and shared with each other some of the factors that created such an engaging environment.  Factors such as meaningful work, growth opportunities, collaborative work environment, trusting and caring relationships were all mentioned.

Next we looked specifically at their present roles and work environments. Using a six point scale they evaluated their current work environment on 12 different factors that Blanchard research has identified as contributing to individual engagement and passion.

While their scores averaged a “4” on the 6-point scale, there were also “2s” and “6s” included in that average.  This is true anytime you bring a group of people togetherthere is always a wide variation of scores that an average often conceals.  While an organization may score a “4” overall, the reality is that the average represents some low scores as well as pockets of excellence.

So what does a smart leader do?  Actively seek out both groups for more information.

You want to identify low scores early on so you can address them.  You also want to identify pockets of excellence so that you can learn from them.  In our work with clients, one of the biggest ways we help is by identifying these high performing pockets so that best practices can be shared with others.

4 steps to identifying your pockets of excellence

How’s your organization doing when it comes to measuring overall engagement levels?  Do you know where your pockets of excellence are operating?  If not, here’s a 4-step process to get you started.

  1. Conduct an employee engagement survey across your entire organization.  Be sure to capture responses from as many different functions, sub-units, and teams as possible.  Survey widely.
  2. Review responses and look for patterns at the team, functional, or location level.  Identify your individual pockets of disengagement and pockets of excellence.
  3. Conduct follow-up interviews—especially with your pockets of excellence.  Your goal is to find out what is contributing to high ratings.  What managerial practices or environmental factors are contributing to positive employee perceptions?
  4. Share best practices broadly across other units.  Share the practical strategies that you discover from individual teams and units with others in the organization.

Too often we think that the answer is “out there” somewhere.  The best ideas are usually closer to home.  Be sure that you are looking for them!

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