Recognise This! – A desire to increase employee engagement is useless without commitment and follow-through.

Gallup issued a brilliant case study of Stryker, a global medical devices company. Focussing on just one unit in New Jersey, the case study highlights several key tenets of success for an employee engagement or strategic employee recognition programme.

1)      Be committed.
“Stryker believes that employee engagement is part of its success — the company has been deeply committed to employee engagement, strengths development, and leadership development for years.”

Commitment to increasing engagement requires commitment to creating a workplace environment in which employees choose to engage. And this is not done by one person. It must be seen as a priority by the entire organisation as a whole.

2)      Secure executive support.
“The first [advantage] was the support of the plant’s leadership, particularly that of John Haller, vice president of global operations for implants at Stryker; the human resources staff; and [Fred] Lorestani, [vice president of North American Implement Operations] himself.”

But it does take clear and highly visible executive support to show employees that actions taken and promises made will be followed through. Without that, many employees won’t feel the initiative is worth their time.

3)      Don’t survey unless you plan to follow up.
“They did the survey, but nothing happened afterwards. That’s a problem. Gallup has found that one of the fastest ways to damage morale is to ask employees for their opinions, then ignore their replies.”

Surveying without follow up action on the results only further disengages employees. Would you keep giving your honest opinion if you didn’t think anything would come of it?

4)      Engagement is the responsibility of management and employees alike.
“It’s not always top down; you [individual employees] also own and you are responsible for your own engagement.”

All employees at every level have a responsibility for engagement. I’ve gone into greater depth on precisely what those responsibilities are for executives, managers and employees in this post.

5)      Engagement doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You must train managers.
“Stryker had been investing in manager development through Gallup’s Great Manager Programme for some time, and Krummel-Mihajlovic found it so helpful that she insisted each of the managers on the operations side attend. She also insisted that the executives above them receive Gallup leadership training.”

Don’t assume just because a manager fails at engagement today that they don’t care about the engagement of their employees. Instead, work to train those managers on both the importance of engagement and what specific actions they can take to improve engagement.

6)      Find local champions.
“Engagement is individual, and the best advocates for it – and perpetuators of it – are employees. And that voice had to be a loud one.”

This is a key tenet I speak to in my training sessions and Stryker got it right. Krummel-Mihajlovic asked who the outspoken people were and who was the go-to person for help. Never assume this is always a person in a management. It’s just as likely to be the receptionist, line leader or any other person in the organisation who cares about their colleagues and getting the job done. Stryker ultimately found 20 champions in this one plant alone.

7)      Choose ambassadors to bring good ideas forward.
Ambassadors play a different role. They carry the messages forward up the chain and then across all employees. These must be people who are both respected as well as passionate and excited about moving your engagement and recognition project forward.

Have you undertaken an engagement or recognition initiative in your organisation? Did you follow these steps? What others did I miss?

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