I was thinking about employee engagement yesterday (as I do a lot of the time!) and I remembered an advert in which a young banking executive excitedly presented a world-changing prototype to his colleagues. Derek had been busy in the bank’s ‘think tank’ and had come up with an ingenious idea that would revolutionise the world – a floating orb called the Bio Remediating Electron Cytometer Self-Perpetuating Energy Ball. He explained excitedly how it would remove the need for harmful detergents and “… revolutionise everything from cleaning your socks to clearing up oil spills.” And the response from his senior colleague? “So… not much use for banking, then?” The disconsolate Derek timidly puts his invention back in the box, probably never to see the light of day again.
Here’s the point: Derek was passionately engaged with his work, and had created something truly extraordinary. But his hard work was all in vain because it was not aligned to the needs of his organisation. He had been working hard, with great creativity and commitment, but on the wrong thing. What he was doing was of no interest to the organisation he worked for. His effort was misplaced.
We all want to see higher employee engagement, but not at any cost. To be truly effective, as a minimum we need employees who are in total alignment with the organisation’s vision, mission and values. Otherwise, all that effort and energy is nothing more than just a floating orb!There is an interesting sub-plot here, in which the bank also missed a great opportunity to support Derek in developing his extraordinary invention, for mutual benefit; but that’s a different story…
So is employee engagement overrated? Absolutely, if it is the sole focus of our energy. Without alignment, it can be a distraction from the organisation’s purpose. That’s why the Emenex ExtraMILE model is so powerful – it provides a process for organisations to align their vision, mission and values with the energy, efficacy and motivation of the employees. You can find out more about it here.
What will you do today to make sure that every ounce of energy you expend is perfectly aligned to the right things?