Better Together: 2 Keys to Employee Engagement

BY Courtney Huckabay
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"Important question to get started here!" Deb Calvert said to the crowd attending the Leadership+Talent Development Summit in San Diego. "Chocolate or peanut butter?" Some shouts for chocolate rang out and some mumbles for peanut butter were sounded across the room, but when a few rogue attendees said, "both!", Calvert's eyes lit up. "Of course it's both!" she said. "They are better together!"

"And you're better if you have assessments and coaching together," the president and founder of People First Productivity Solutions segued into her presentation. She firmly believes you can't achieve the level of employee engagement you want without coaching and assessments.

"Employee engagement often is misunderstood," Calvert said. "The key is emotion." Her definition of employee engagement is a heightened emotional connection that the employee feels for his/​her organization, that, in turn, influences him/​her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/​her work.

"Engagement gives you a domino effect you want: people stick around, retention, productivity levels increase, customer loyalty, revenue increases and you get profit margin improvements," Calvert said.

"Yeah, but that one word makes people squirm sometimes," she continued. "Does it really have to be an emotional commitment? Yes it does."

Emotion beats rational commitment every time. Emotional commitment gives you four times the impact that rational commitment does. The best leaders engage employees the most.

The more you focus on being a people leader, the more ways you’ll find to effectively use coaching and assessments, Calvert believes. Coaches ask, not tell, so they're asking emotional questions, perhaps about what [management] styles people prefer. Then pair great coaching with assessing employees to connect. As Calvert put it, assessments identify coachee needs, and they make employees feel good about the work they do.

She closed with some leadership takeaways.

5 practices of exemplary leaders:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the process
  4. Enable others to act
  5. Encourage the heart

"Engagement starts with leaders who choose to make that emotional connection," Calvert concluded.