Week three of July’s spotlight on engagement saw our focus move to the link between engagement and performance.
After three weeks of discussion there is still a lack of consensus as to what it actually means to be ‘engaged’. It clearly means different things to different people and subsequently, is perceived to be more or less valuable by different people.
Does it matter if we can’t agree on the definition of engagement? Provided that organisations that measure the concept have a solid understanding and definition of what engagement means to them, what they hope to get out of it and most importantly that they do get outcomes from going through the process, perhaps not?
Experience tells us that pursing anything without having a clear idea of what we are trying to achieve and what it will look like when we get there is likely to result in lessor outcomes than if clarity and purpose was defined at the beginning. Which leads to the link to performance. Once we have defined what engagement means for an organisation, surely one must then define the outcomes that can expect to flow from achieving it?
There is oodles of data and insight out there that prove the link between engagement and performance, an example of which was kindly provided by Scott Duncan here but as Richard Westney pointed out, “do any orgs ever measure engagement alongside productivity? Doubt it”.
So do these lack of performance metrics within organisations make the measure of engagement redundant? Absolutely not, but certainly there is the opportunity for organisations to get clearer on what internal performance metrics they link with engagement to better target interventions and demonstrate true ROI.
Organisational performance metrics are one thing but performance at the individual level opened up another debate. In response to Andrew Burner’s comment that “people with the capability to perform do when engaged, and don’t fulfill their potential @ work when not”, Neil Usher asserts that “its quite possible to perform to your max for yourself, you don’t have to be “engaged”.
Is engagement a prerequisite condition for good performance, or is it more about your individual motivation and work ethic? While the latter can certainly be true, as Amanda Sterling points out “it would take a boat load of intrinsic motivation”. And, while high performers may perform at their best regardless of climate or culture, how likely is it that they will be able to maximize outcomes that involve collaboration with others in a low engagement environment?
Finally, as a follow up to this energetic discussion Perry Timms contributed his Motown blog, his take on a highly successful organisation where people, he asserts, were rarely engaged with the organisation itself.
To my eyes Perry actually makes a strong case for engagement – enabling employees to be part of something bigger than themselves, in an environment where they can be brilliant is what creating highly engaged organisations is all about. The organisation then reaps the rewards of having invested in creating a place where people are energized, committed and contributing more.
Agree or disagree, it’s a great read and rounds off what was a great discussion on engagement and performance.