The conventional wisdom is that having engaged employees is a good thing. And I agree – it is. And in recent years many companies have been pursuing an employee engagement strategy as a result – which is good. But ….some of them have been making a huge mistake by not defining what they want employees to be engaged with!

My guess is that every organisation would say they want a culture which results in people performing at their best, ultimately so that it can deliver its business plan. I stopped to read that sentence a few times to check it’s true – would every organisation want that? Well on the basis that I can’t think of a single example of a company, industry sector or geographical location where it wouldn;t be true, I believe it is (please tell me if you can think of one!). And yet some organisations pursue an engagement strategy which isn’t aligned.

What they do is create a really ‘nice’ place to work. It’s extremely comfortable for employees to work in and gthey receive lots of support from the organisation. Employee surveys probably show that people are satisfied and highly engaged. And yet the business is struggling to deliver the business plan.

The approach is flawed because it’s pursued in isolation from business objectives and the culture required to enable delivery of those objectives.

Better instead to engage employees with the business strategy and with their role in delivering it. Better to have a degreee of ‘edginess’ in the culture. Better to have a balance between the level of challenge for people and the amount of support for them. And better for people to understand that consistently poor performance does actually have consequences.

Create a great place to work, not a ‘nice’ one….

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