#NZLEAD PREVIEW: Engagement and Performance


We are now into week three of ‘engagement month’ and  slowly peeling back the layers of the engagement onion; and it hasn’t been without tears. As week one proved, people have strong views on the value of engagement – both positive and negative. The less favourable views seemed to reflect a frustration with a lack of meaningful action. The consensus was that it is what you do with survey data that really matters.

Week two  explored the theme of action; focussing on the imperative for organisations to communicate effectively and for senior leaders to lead authentically. Without these critical pieces in play the role of HR, in enabling a highly engaged workforce, is made more difficult if not impossible. Prematurely, we found the conversation move to the link between engagement and performance – this week’s topic. The consensus of the group was fairly clear, that engagement is a prerequisite for sustainable high performance. So to re-mitigate this point seems less important than really getting under its skin.

Now for my disclosure – I work for Aon Hewitt. I have the pleasure of working with organisations to, not only measure engagement, but improve it.  I work with organisations with high engagement, low engagement and everywhere in between. I can tell you a story of my own (anonymously of course!) about the link between engagement and performance. This involves correlation data for a large retail client at the store level. The data showed customer satisfaction was 6% higher for high engagement stores versus low engagement stores, and sales growth was $205,000 higher.

Also, organisations with high engagement just feel better. You can tell just by walking in the door that people are excited, aligned and willing to go the extra mile. Not because of their personal work ethic of bias, but because they genuinely want the best for the organisation they work for.  And this is simply good for business. It is harder to put metrics around this but, for those of you who work for or with a highly engaging organisation, you are likely to empathise.

So this week’s questions:

Q1) What do we actually mean when we talk about ‘performance’ and its link to engagement? Are we talking individual, team or business performance?

Q2) What metrics do we use to measure the link to engagement? How does this validate (or not) the links between engagement and performance?

Q3) What evidence do we have (research or actual experience) of the link between the engagement and performance?

Q4) What do highly engaged, but under performing teams look like? Do they exist? Why?


#NZLEAD PREVIEW: Frucor, values and engagement

We continue our discussion on engagement this week by looking at a specific case study where values and leadership have been integral parts of creating a highly engaged culture. But firstly a disclosure. I work for the company in this case-study and part of my role is working on engagement. So yeah, I’m biased, but it’s actually a great story.

Frucor is a drinks company. You may not have heard of the company brand but no doubt you’ve heard about the product brands: V, H2Go, Just Juice, just to name a few. Both Frucor Australia and Frucor New Zealand achieved Aon Hewitt Best Employer accreditation status this year. For Australia it was the third year in a row, for New Zealand, we also won in 2011.

Frucor credits it’s high engagement to a strong values-based culture. The Frucor values have been around for about 8 years. However, a values refresh was undertaken last year to provide some aspirational ‘stretch’ to the values language.  Really, the values are not that old cliché of something on the wall that are nice to look at. They really are such a strong part of the way things are done. Don’t believe me? Well when your employees come up with rap songs about the values that’s a strong signal that they are really owning it.

Performance is important to Frucor, as it is with any company. Frucor is adapting to cope with an increased intensity of change coupled with a complex supply chain and an even greater emphasis on a quality product. But it’s a tricky balance to up the ante on performance in a way that supports and strengthens values and culture.

One of the ways that Frucor has done this is through enabling leadership. Frucor invests heavily in developing leadership skills. Particularly leadership capabilty to articulate the direction and purpose of the business and support people in achieving that vision. But anyone can articulate vision and strategy right? The key difference is how that is done. So I’m going to throw another cliché in here – genuine authentic leadership. This is way way easier to say than do but the thing that has the biggest impact. As the Frucor NZ CEO, Mark Callaghan said “when you really do care about how people feel it creates an environment of honesty, openness and trust.” People really do know if you are trying to BS them with an ulterior motive.

Frucor really does care about it’s people. Take it from someone who lives and breathes it every day – you should have read enough of my blogs to know I’m not just giving you the party line and that is really really how it is. This geuine, authentic approach to engagement underscored by a strong leadership enabled culture is what makes Frucor a great place to work.

So this week’s questions:

Q1) How much do you think values has an impact on engagement? What works well? What doesn’t?

Q2) What is the role of leadership in engagement? Why is it so important? What have you observed?

Q3) How do you enable authentic leadership?

Q4) Can you really achieve engagement if you are focusing on increased performance as the outcome?

#NZLEAD RECAP: Mentoring

Mentoring is such a fundamental part of developing leadership. Good leadership development is about setting clear expectations and empowering people to perform. Mentoring is based on honesty, transparency, integrity and trust. A great mentor is someone who empowers personal accountability and builds self-awareness.

This quote shared by Mark Sumner summed up nicely the philosophy around mentoring:

“I am not a Teacher, but an Awakener”, 

Robert Frost

This is all nice and everything, but is really nothing new.

The emphasis on coaching, and the philosophy behind mentoring relationships, will not change in the next 5-10 years. However, leadership should be less hierarchical and more collaborative. Social communities are all about the collaborative. The rise of social media creates greater opportunities to connect with suitable mentors. It can be easier to meet people, and keep the connections going.

Social media is not everyone’s cup of tea. So the potential of establishing and maintaining mentoring relationships within the social embrace is limited to those of us who are connected.

Those of us who regularly participate in #nzlead are already experiencing greater connectivity to like-minded, thought-provoking and inspiring people. Proof in point that mentoring is no longer reliant on a one-to-one relationship established through structured processes. Crowd-sourced, social mentoring: the way of the future?