Webinar: 360-degree Feedback Coaching Best Practices

During this webcast we’ll share the best methods debriefing and coaching from the results of a 360-degree feedback survey. The course prepares HR professionals to coach individuals, interpret individual and group reports, and guide the development planning and follow-up with participants.

Date: Wednesday, February 6th
Time: 1:00pm (Eastern)
Presented by: Dan Deka

Register here:

Why Most Organizations Are Getting Only Half of Employee Engagement Right

More organizations today are aware of the benefits of engaged employees. But most are going in circles by addressing just half of the employee experience equation.

With more organizations becoming aware of the importance of engagement, media coverage of the topic has become widespread and more scholarly. This, however, can be a double-edge sword.

Harvard professor Teresa Amabile and researcher Steven Kramer shared the results from a project in which they collected more than 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees at seven companies. They found that about a third of the time, the workers were unhappy, unmotivated, or both—but that on the days that they were happy, they were more apt to have new ideas.

Articles like this create a compelling and data-driven case for the importance of engagement and the role that engagement plays in performance. However, they can also confuse organizations who don’t understand the concept of engagement. When we were knee-deep in the research for our recently released book, ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: Five Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations, it became clear that words and phrases like happiness and work harder create confusion and fuel misconceptions for many about what engagement is and isn’t. Is employee engagement about feeling happy?  Is it about simply getting work done?  Not quite.

So, what does engagement look like?  It involves bringing hearts, spirits, hands, and minds to one’s work. It looks something like this:

Engagmenet: hearts-hands-minds

The heart is about meaning, passion, and fulfillment, even finding joy in what you do.  Spirit is about attitude, energy, and excitement. It’s something that can be felt when you walk into a room or work with a highly engaged team. Heart and spirit imply that we must feel the work that we do. Unfortunately, that’s where most employee engagement models stop, and that’s a mistake. There is more to engagement than just “feeling something.”

The mind is about intellect, interests, curiosity, and creativity. The hands are about effort, productivity, and self-determination—using your skills and sweat to produce something of value. Mind and hands imply that we must do something. In order to be fully engaged, we must act. To put it simply:

Heart and Spirit = Feeling

Mind and Hands = Action

Engagement requires that we bring both our emotions and our actions to the table—our hearts, spirits, minds, and hands. To be engaged we must feel something and take action on what we feel. Take one away and you don’t have engagement. You can think of feelings and action as the as two oars in a rowboat. They are complimentary opposites. Both are necessary. Row with just one and you’ll travel in circles. You might work up a sweat and feel as though you should be getting somewhere, but you won’t. Pull on both at the same time and you’ll make progress.

You Can’t Have One Without the Other

We see this kind of wasted effort with a majority of so-called employee experience initiatives within organizations. While well intentioned, most of these initiatives row with only one oar. Some target the heart and spirit, while others involve the mind and hands, but few encompass them all simultaneously. The results? A lot of energy spent, little distance traveled.

Supportive Ecosystem for Coaching

Sometimes, leaders mistakenly feel that if their people row hard enough with one oar, the other will come along with it. We recently worked with a large technology company that had just acquired its formidable competitor. To the employees of both companies, the acquiring company effectively communicated the steps of the acquisition, the reason behind it, and the actions that would need to take place over the subsequent months. Employees clearly understood that their minds and hands would be required to make the integration process a smooth one, and they knew that it was financially beneficial for the company overall. On paper, everything looked solid. Yet the integration was failing miserably.

It quickly became apparent that, while minds and hands were active, hearts and spirits were stagnant. When we surveyed employees, we learned that although they were acting, they were not feeling. In short, the company had failed to gain buy-in. Though the process was very solid and clearly outlined, the acquiring company had failed to see that nearly a quarter of its people felt that the integration process would most likely result in the loss of their jobs.

Even more damaging was the feeling we found in employees of the acquiring company that the company they had purchased was built around a “culture of cutthroats.” Talk about toxic. They had made little effort to bring hearts and spirit along for the ride, and so the acquisition was doomed from the start.

On the other extreme, we have worked with a number of organizations that had worked hard to attend to hearts and spirits, but failed to engage minds and hands. These companies made great strides in energizing the workforce and even instilling a sense of passion. But while the employees felt great, they weren’t required to act. These companies invested a great deal of effort and money in creating what they thought was an engaged culture when, in reality, it was only a company that felt good about itself.

When you involve hearts, spirits, minds, and hands, your organization is both feeling and acting. You have an engaged workforce that produces its own bottom line improvements in retention, quality, customer service, and profitability. You don’t have to design those outcomes into engagement; they are inevitable.

Read more on Engagement:

[i] Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer, “Do Happier People Work Harder?”, New York Times Sunday Review, September 3, 2011.

Infographic: 7 Myths About Employee Engagement (and the Facts Behind Them)

Download the PDF version of the Infographic

1. Myth: Engagement is About People Working Harder

FACT: Engagement is about people being INSPIRED and working SMARTER, more CREATIVELY, more MINDFULLY, and more EFFICIENTLY. Although for some this may mean working longer hours, the true result of engagement is greater overall contribution.

2. Myth: Engagement is About Happy Employees

FACT: Happiness and satisfaction are transitory because they’re dependent on external factors: how much you’re paid, if you like the people on your team, and so on. Engagement is about both FEELING and ACTING. Having happy employees is a great objective, but engagement means doing something as a result.

3. Myth: Engagement is About Extracting More From Workers

FACT: Employees are not a strip mine. Engagement is about EMPOWERING and INSPIRING employees to dedicate more of their own accord. It’s a departure from the traditional command-and-control structure, which is why so many managers find it difficult to implement.

4. Myth: The Same Things Will Engage Everyone

FACT: People (and organizations) engage differently based on what matters to them. That’s why it’s a fool’s errand to create engagement programs based on specific incentives or activities. Effective engagement initiatives CREATE THE CONDITIONS in which employees can find and EXPRESS WHAT MATTERS to them.

5. Myth: Everyone Wants To Engage

FACT: Though we believe that most healthy human beings want and need to engage, some people will always refuse. ENGAGEMENT IS A CHOICE, and in every organization there will always be people who choose to remain disengaged, regardless of the environment created by the organization.

6. Myth: Disengaged Employees Will Leave

FACT: Many disengaged employees will stay but experience burnout, a prime symptom of disengagement. It’s not just working hard and feeling overwhelmed. It’s where you actually FEEL DETACHED and depersonalized from your work. You’re on automatic pilot most of the time, EMOTIONALLY SPENT, and your anxiety level is off the charts. Burned-out employees may sleepwalk through their duties, decline to share information, or detract from the effectiveness of those around them.

7. Myth: Engagement Makes Leaders Obsolete

FACT: Engagement requires LESS MANAGEMENT but MORE LEADERSHIP. Engaged employees are self- starters who don’t need coercion or managers looking over their shoulders in order to produce excellent work. In fact, LEADERS ARE KEY in creating an environment in which employees choose to engage.


Learn more about topic of ENGAGEMENT MAGIC from the book and from our training program.