How to win at the game of employee engagement

Engagement drives results.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? When your team is more engaged, you get better results. But it turns out the reverse is just as true, if not more so.

Results drive engagement.

When I was producing my hit comedy TV show in Seattle, my team and I would look at the ratings every week. It was a point of pride for us that we were number one in our time slot for ten straight years. Seeing the numbers there in black and white (and right next to the lower numbers of our competition) drove us to keep excelling.

Were the ratings the only thing that kept our engagement and our chops up? Not at all. There was the friendly competition among the staff (we all wanted to make the rest of the team laugh), there was the joy of practicing our art and craft, there was the response of the live studio audience each week. Those were all good inducements for engagement.

But the numbers gave us a way to keep score.

We all like to root for a winning team. But even more, we all like to play for a winning team. That was true for my team, and it’s true for yours as well.

But here’s the rub: in order to be excited (and engaged) by playing for a winning team, your team members have to know that they are winning! And in order to know this, they have to know three things:

  1. They have to know what the goal is.In basketball, the goal is to put the ball through the net. Take away the net, and you’re left with a bunch of tall people bouncing a ball around on a wooden floor. The net provides the goal, the focus. What’s the specific goal for your team? And I mean specific. “Doing better” is not a specific goal. Doing better at what? And how much better? By when?

  2. They have to know what the measure is.Let’s go back to that basketball game and take a look at the scoreboard. There may be a lot of information up there, but at the end of the game, the only measure that really counts is the number of points. In my world, the measure that counted was the ratings. In virtually every case, it comes down to a number. What’s the number that you will measure? Total assets? Loan-to-share ratio? Number of members? Figure out your number — and make sure your team can see it quickly, easily, and consistently.

  3. They have to know what they are measuring against.If you’re playing on that basketball team, and you know that your team scored 48 points, is that good or bad? Well, you have no way of knowing, do you? The number 48 is meaningless until you know how many points the other team has. If you have a scoreboard in your workplace that shows that your total assets are $1.7 billion, is that good or bad? It depends. Was the goal $1 billion or was it $5 billion? Your team has to be able to know, at a glance, how they are doing against the competition (and the competition could be a self-imposed target number).

An engaged team produces results. And results produce an engaged team. But only if the team knows the results, and what those results mean.

Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton works with extraordinary leaders who want to produce breakthrough results with their teams. A 29-time Emmy® Award-winning producer, writer, and performer, Bill speaks frequently to Credit Unions and ... Web: Details