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Why Employee Engagement Is More Important Than What You Do

Written by Ron Kaminski on May 19, 2016

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Why Employee Engagement Is More Important Than What You Do“Buy-in” is one of those business catchphrases that is so overused, nobody seems to know what it really means anymore.

You already know it’s important for your employees to buy in to what your company is doing. But what does that really mean? We should start by calling buy-in what it really is: emotional engagement. And what is emotional engagement? It’s the “why” of your company and your people.

Getting to the Why

It’s common for companies to focus on the intellectual engagement of their people – what they do and how they are going to do it. Both are necessary factors in building a productive workforce, but without the emotional motivation – without the “why” – you don’t have a compelling reason to pursue the “what” or the “how.”

Emotional engagement is fundamentally more important to your company than intellectual engagement. You can instruct your team about the direction of your company. You can train them in the skills they need to move the company in that direction. But inspiring your people to use those skills and pursue those goals is another matter. To do that, you must understand the triggers of emotional engagement and how to utilize them.

In the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink identifies three primary drivers for emotional engagement from your employees:

  • Autonomy. Whether it’s a project, a process, or something else within the company’s power structure, team members feel like the company trusts them with an important task. The organization is offering them the opportunity to make a real impact.
  • Mastery. Everybody wants to feel like the go-to person for something. When you need a particular business issue resolved, you search out Joe, Steve, or Mary, because you know that person will have the solution. If team members feel like they are the best at something, they feel essential to the company’s success. As far as motivation goes, that’s worth its weight in gold.
  • Purpose. How are your employees’ jobs impacting the company, the industry or the world around them? If you can instill a greater sense of purpose in your employees, you will create an environment where they’re coming to work each day for more than just a paycheck.

Testing Emotional Engagement

When you finally achieve it, what does emotional engagement look like? In my experience, you’ll find out around 5 p.m.

I do a lot of needs assessments for clients, and I usually do them at the end of the day. Doing so gives me a chance to get out of the client’s conference room, and when 5 p.m. rolls around, I start noting outbound traffic.

At an engaged company, many people stay past 5 p.m., putting in that little bit of extra work to get ahead. At a disengaged company, there is generally a mass exodus toward the parking lot that begins just a few heartbeats after 5.

Which kind of company do you have? And which kind do you want to have?

Next Steps

organizational checkup

This article was originally posted on the CultureShoc blog on April 18, 2016

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