What employee engagement means to me
Employee engagement is the outcome of a work experience. In aggregate, it is a two-way exchange of energy between an employer and their employees that benefits key business metrics and a great customer experience. For the individual, employee engagement is the personal connection between their value as a human (their holistic talents, skills, and experiences) being leveraged in a role which supports a company’s vision and mission. To an external observer, employee engagement looks like a never ending carnival of collaboration, networking, engaging with colleagues without boundaries, learning and reinventing in an organization which makes it possible. This view of employee engagement not only foments a great experience for employees, but also contributes to client engagement – building bonds with customers that result in greater loyalty, spending, and advocacy. That’s what employee engagement means to me.
Khalid and I are prime examples of how two employees can collaborate across organizational and geographical boundaries (we are separated by a mere 9,000 miles or so!), using social business tools, to encourage other employees to boost productivity and camaraderie, thus creating an engaging workplace.
What were YOU born to do?
When my good friend and colleague Khalid asked me to be a guest blogger, I was delighted! This is truly an assignment reflective of social glamour because I’ve never met Khalid, yet we are socially connected. Khalid is in India. I’m in Detroit. We’ve spent hours and hours of time together, and our efforts have had a positive impact on our universe. I’m going to use this blogging opportunity to prove to you that two people committed to a better future, combined with the use of social media, can change the world. It can also help you figure out what you were put on this earth to do.
How did we start?
Let me take a step back and talk about how the two of us teamed up.
Khalid and I work for IBM, and we ran across one another somehow. He understood my passion for building employee engagement through identifying, leveraging and communicating people’s strengths. I understood his passion for social business and admired how well he ran an internal community of technical leaders. A natural partnership was born! We crafted a plan.
First, we held a workshop for the technical leader community that Khalid so adeptly managed. It was a big success, with a couple of hundreds of folks showing up. Then we did something similar for a managers’ community. Why? There is a proven link between strengths and employee engagement. Did you know:
- Employees who are put in a position to use their strengths every day are more productive and successful
- Managers who focus on an employee’s strengths in an annual review increased performance by an average of 36.5%
- Employees who know their strengths are 6X more likely to be engaged employees (Engaged employees create engaged clients – engaged clients stay longer and spend more money with the business)
Therefore, it is really important for managers to know our strengths and place us in roles where those strengths are utilized. After Khalid and I held the global strengths webinar for managers (again we received rave reviews), we had so much fun that we decided to go bigger.
We used social media to invite everyone in our company (tens of thousands of people) to attend a three-part Succeed With Your Strengths workshop. This workshop required people to take Gallup’s Clifton Strengthsfinder test to understand their top five strengths.
We did everything right. We created an irresistible invitation. We used other social media influencers to help us reach out to others. We created and communicated a clear vision about what success would look like – letting our colleagues know that by leveraging their strengths rather than trying to fix their weaknesses, they would be more engaged and higher-performing. We crafted and followed a simple plan that helped people learn their ABC’s before asking them to read (the Succeed With Your Strengths journey is very similar – you must understand your strengths before you can leverage them). We offered our webinar series at two times – one that was convenient for the western world, and one that was convenient for the east.
Then, we talked about the program with a sense of fun, energy, and enthusiasm that was contagious. The Succeed With Your Strengths movement spread like wildfire around the globe. Before we knew it, we had over 6,000 people signed up – more than any online social event in the history of our company! Most important of all, we delivered. Our webinar series had rock solid content. We had technical troubles (trust me, managing 6,000 people signing in for a webinar is not easy) but because we recorded each one, it didn’t matter in the long run.
When we were done, thousands and thousands of colleagues knew their strengths, knew how to connect them to their past successes, and how to be more effective in their current role. They understood that WE BELIEVED IN THEM. As a result, their sense of engagement and joy increased. We got all kinds of qualitative and quantitative feedback that reflected the value we delivered, and it was one of the most powerful social business projects I’ve ever seen. Here are the results we achieved:
- Over 92% of the participants found the workshops helpful, planned to share it with their teams, and would recommend the workshops to others
- Thanks, nicely done! The presentation got me so excited about it that I shared it with my old manager and co-workers (I just changed departments).
- Great session and presentation!!! I didn’t expect such an empowering call!!!
- Very interesting and informative. I always hated when potential employers asked me what my strengths and weaknesses are because I never really knew how to answer the question. I plan to take the Strength Finders Survey so that I can answer this question correctly when asked. Superb job, Maureen and Khalid!!!
- Excellent fresh perspective in which to view strategies for success, both personally and in business. Would love to see this come forward as a top down initiative from senior and HR management.
- Outstanding presentation. This is a powerful test that helped me change my career. Hope all employees (especially managers) consider this.
Within a year, the webinar recordings, associated workbooks and presentations had been downloaded over 24,000 times. Colleagues continued to email us with gratitude for how it had helped them improve their performance and better understand their colleagues.
Now, I fear that this story sounds like bragging. I don’t mean it to – what I want it to reflect is this – we were two people committed to a vision that focused on the total awesomeness of our colleagues. We leveraged our individual strengths to create and deliver an amazing workshop series that helped our colleagues be higher performing and more engaged. We collaborated really well. This vision, combined with the power of social – proved that anything is possible.
Khalid and I have very different Strengthsfinder results – and that is a good thing! Diversity of thought, execution, relationship building, and influencing helps build more effective teams.
My Gallup Strengthsfinder results are Ideation, Strategic, Achiever, Learner, and Individualization. I am an idea machine that likes to navigate to a new and better future, and am focused on the unique traits of each person.
Khalid’s Gallup Strengthsfinder results are Competition, Positivity, Woo, Achiever, and Activator. Khalid helped influence people to get the project off the ground and was driven to bring in more participants (that competitive streak!)
Our combined strengths, experiences, and values created a perfect storm of success
What’s next for you?
Well, I suspect that you are wondering what YOUR strengths are, what makes YOU totally awesome, and what YOU were put on this earth to do. You want to be a Strengths Rock Star! Good!
You can take the Clifton Strengthsfinder yourself for $9.99 at www.gallupstrengthscenter.com. If you want more support, you can always find me pursuing my vision and mission at www.maureenmonte.com I have a weekly blog that focuses on Strengths & Self-leadership. You’re welcome to learn with us! And you just might see Khalid as a guest blogger over there very, very soon! And maybe, just maybe… we’ll hold another one of those global workshops!
Thank you for this magnificent opportunity, Khalid! Onward! ~ Maureen Electa Monte