How often do we see it that the results of an employee engagement survey come out, and one of the main messages is that your leaders aren’t engaging enough. Whether this is due to poor communication, not managing performance or giving feedback, or knowing how to recognise or acknowledge their people. The reasons are often varied, and sometimes the survey output isn’t granular enough to let you know where the focus for development needs to be. But that’s not the purpose of this article.
What we often overlook is that results like this create some of the most unnecessary, and unspoken, challenges felt by managers. That is, the immediate pressure to become an engaging leader overnight. The idea that there needs to be immediate improvement is backed up by the rhetoric that comes with the results, the way they are shared (often without thought to framing, context or a supporting plan) and the fact that there will be another engagement survey next year and possibly some pulse surveys in between.
What is the Engagement False Reality Trap
And in this moment we have created the ‘Engagement False Reality Trap’.
And this is why it’s a false reality:
If the above factors are even partly true, and the managers of the groups with the poor results are not great people leaders, then we tend to see the following scenarios play out:
How to avoid the ‘Engagement False Reality Trap’?
The premise of the Engagement False Reality Trap is that we place an artificial, 12-month timeframe on how quickly we should be building engagement and trust. So, the choice is simple; either offer meaningful development and support for developing engagement, or manage the expectations around what can realistically be achieved in a 12-month period. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this can be solved with anything less than genuine intent to want to shift the engagement dial, and a medium to long-term outlook.