Engagement is the starting point, not the end game.

by Lawrence Walsh | Dec 23, 2019

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Is engagement your end game? Your holy grail? What if we told you it is actually the first step? Engagement is how you can shift your culture in the right direction – without it, your organisation simply can’t align.

The analogy we like is a rowing one: You can have 8 motivated guys in a boat but if they are not rowing as a crew – all in sync, all in time, then there will just be a lot of splashing and not much progress.  It’s the sync, timing and direction which turns engagement into alignment.

For many of the businesses we work with alignment is often a key reason for adopting OKRs, but for your to be truly aligned your team needs to be engaged. OKRs most definitely aren’t a silver bullet, but they can act as a beacon to work towards long-term growth ambitions. 

So, are you tracking your employee’s engagement on a regular basis? If not, we think you should be. 

Productive vs engaged employees

Question for you. What more could you want than an employee who turns up on time, completes their work to a deadline and a reasonable standard? Well as it turns out, a lot. This is what’s known as a productive employee – they do what they are asked but they don’t put in any extra effort and generally won’t contribute any new ideas to drive the business forward. 

Just because someone ticks all the boxes on an appraisal sheet doesn’t mean they give a damn. Do you want an employee who makes insightful contributions to meetings, makes an effort to gel with the team and goes above and beyond to meet the organisations’ critical goals? Then you are looking for an engaged employee. To achieve a workforce of engaged employees, every individual from the bottom-up needs to feel connected to the top mission of the company. 

Why is engagement so important?

Engagement is no project or workshop – there’s no end date, it needs to be part of your day to day, engrained into everything you do. That’s not to say it needs to be the foundations of your business, but if you want to move beyond where you are now, it’s fundamental. 

It can’t just be for show – it is felt and experienced by employees every day. Disengaged team members can be a thorn in your side and can affect the motivation of others around them and the organisations’ ability to meet goals. When it clicks and your employees understand your business goals completely, they can recognise their role in achieving these targets and are more likely to invest their efforts into working towards them. 

If you want your employees to stay with you on this journey, they need to be satisfied. This doesn’t mean beers on a Friday or an office pool table. Over the years we’ve found this is achieved best when individuals fully understand their responsibilities and also have a say in them.

How are engagement and OKRs related?

OKRs allow employees to see their individual activities align and contribute towards broader business goals. Ultimately, you’re letting your employees in on the priorities for the business and engaging them in the process. Personal OKRs contribute towards business OKRs and when your staff are engaged, they’re much more likely to feel valued, supported and properly informed. Wanting to actively contribute to wider ideas and goals helps you to start real meaningful conversations and bring everyone together – let’s be honest, that is what most businesses are looking for. 

Engagement means everyone is focused and on it, not only on what tasks they’re completing, but how and why they are completing them. Regular check-ins between managers and employees ensures employees are getting consistent guidance and support where OKRs act as a centrepiece for performance assessment.

Are you struggling to engage your employees and get them on that first page to alignment? We support businesses at any stage in their OKR journey, get in touch with Roger or Lawrence for an informal chat about your OKRs and the next steps for your business.