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Best Practices for Creating Employee Engagement

We spoke last week at the ILPEx Conference on findings from our book, Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way: How World-Class Leaders Align Their Organizations to Achieve Exceptional Results. We’re gratified that so many people find these lessons learned from other leaders to be so interesting.

We interviewed more than 50 senior leaders from more than 30 Baldrige or Baldrige-based award winning organizations. They shared their success stories for developing and sustaining a culture of high employee engagement across a variety of industries and environments. Most of the approaches they described cost little or no money, and they’re not hard to get started. Here are just a few of the best practices that are ready for you to adopt or adapt!

  1. Create a link between your vision and strategy and your employees. Help every employee know with certainty how he or she contributes to a larger purpose.
  2. Ensure that your stated values are alive and on display by your actions. Use them in your recruiting and hiring processes to attract job candidates who are likely to be a good fit with your organization’s culture.
  3. Use reward and recognition to reinforce your vision and values. Don’t reward for great results unless they were achieved in line with your vision and values.
  4. Share data to inform your employees about how your organization is doing in measures that matter. Most players aren’t interested in playing if a game isn’t scored. And make sure that your employees know how to interpret the data and understand their message.
  5. Along with data, share comparisons of your organization’s performance against high-performing organizations. Presenting your results against state and national averages isn’t very compelling and sends the message that you’re content with just being above average.
  6. Stay the course if you encounter a rocky patch, and demonstrate with actions that you’re in it with your employees. If all of the sacrifice happens with the front line staff while executives keep their normal perks, you’re immediately branded as hypocrites. That’s a tough climb up Trust Hill to recover from that.
  7. Create a common language and methodology for continuous improvement. This helps employees improve their own work and work together more quickly to address cross-functional processes.
  8. Prioritize your opportunities for improvement not necessarily with the most significant but those that will allow you and your employees to celebrate early “wins.” As your organization builds its “improvement muscle,” you can tackle more complex projects.
  9. Formally assess employee engagement at least every two years. Research has shown that regular surveying is correlated with significantly higher levels of employee engagement and greatly reduced numbers of actively disengaged employees.
  10. Of course, if you conduct surveys, the most important step in the process is reviewing the results with your employees and committing to take action in areas that are drivers of their engagement. Don’t just automatically gravitate to your lowest scoring items. Those may contribute to satisfaction but have no bearing on engagement. And when you have taken action, communicate that back to employees.

As you can see, most of these involve little to no cost other than your time and commitment. If you question whether the investment is worth it, we invite you to take a look at the results achieved by the organizations featured in our book or those of the 2017 Baldrige Award recipients who will be speaking at the Best Practices for Creating Employee Engagement. https://www.nist.gov/baldrige/qe/register

By the way, after our presentation last week, 53 of the attendees came us with business cards to ask us to send them copies of our slides. If you’ll email Kay@Baldrige-Coach.com, we’ll be happy to send them to you, too.

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