The Downside of Performance Measurement
Sustainable Success Through Optimum Employee Engagement

Chickens, Eggs & Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement: is it an attitude or is it a behaviour? Does it make any difference?

Chicken & egg_000016030848XSmallNow, you might be inclined to think that is a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. After all we all know that attitudes shape behaviour, don’t we?  But do they? For example, if you have a bad customer experience, you will be reluctant to support that business in future. So behaviour (theirs) certainly has shaped attitude (yours.)

Let’s now apply that logic to the employee engagement issue. Is it possible that your employees are disengaged because of your behaviour?

This unavoidably implies that employee engagement is an attitude. But is it? What if employee engagement is a behaviour?  Perhaps now you can begin to see that this is a more profound question than you initially thought, not least because of the way in which you approach the issue. After all, if you see it as an attitude problem you will very likely manage your people differently than you would if you saw it as a behaviourial issue.

The problem is that you are most likely to approach employee engagement as an "employee issue". And at one level it is, because behaviour, for the individual, is shaped by attitude. Thus at the individual level employee attitudes and behaviours are inextricably linked, with attitudes being shaped more by external behaviours. Yet, because you regard it an employee problem, you inevitably consider it as a single problem. Can you see how this induces a kind of lazy thinking that possibly prevents you from finding better solutions?    

In fact most managers view employee engagement as an attitude issue. For evidence of this you need look no further than the fact that most organisations assess employee engagement by conducting employee engagement surveys. You have to agree that this is effectively measuring attitudes. That may be logical and all very well, but it is not a sound foundation on which to build a remedy. Attitudes are subjective; they are influenced by circumstances, events and situations; and most of all, they are changeable, according to those criteria. They are also very difficult to change, which is perhaps why you find employee engagement such a challenge. This means they are definitely not the basis for developing a lasting, sustainable long-term solution, especially if those attitudes are shaped by your behaviour!

Thinking about employee engagement as a behaviour, however, rather than an attitude, compels a different mindset but does not require a massive leap. After all, if you think about it, you would recognise engaged behaviour if you saw it. And that is precisely the approach that I have adopted in developing the means to assess employee engagement from a business perspective. This approach removes all the subjectivity associated with conventional employee engagement surveys and looks at the key elements that build sustainability and sustained success and assesses the extent to which they prevail in the organisation. Naturally, in doing this, they simultaneously compel you to look at your organisational behaviours and provide a more grounded basis for shaping attitudes and building more of the requisite behaviours.  


The comments to this entry are closed.