I was at a conference recently where I was reminded of a 2017 Gallup employee engagement report on the State of the American Workplace. The report suggested that only 33% of employees in the organisations studied were “engaged” and concluded that engagement levels had remained relatively unchanged in the previous decade. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. What was even more shocking was that of the two thirds of disengaged employees, almost a quarter of these were found to be “actively disengaged” i.e. people who were taking actions to undermine or sabotage the work of their engaged colleagues and their employer. Most shocking of all perhaps was the indication that the USA is near the top of the global rankings and that engagement levels are significantly lower in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and India.
Beyond the obvious economic, health and wellbeing impacts, the opportunity costs must be huge and incalculable. This prompted a question in my mind….
What if everyone in an organisation was engaged every day in meaningful, enjoyable activity to realise the vision or alternatively making a concerted effort to leave?
My thoughts wandered to Daniel Pink’s TED talk on his theory of motivation for workers. He made a strong case that self-determination was a driving force in people and that leaders and organisations who could provide their people with autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose could benefit from enhanced productivity, engagement and happiness.
Daniel Pink’s argument closely aligns with the intent of Yoji Akao’s methodology of Hoshin Kanri (or Policy Deployment) which is to let the strategic goals of an organisation guide every decision and action. In developing the approach, he aimed to harness the collective thinking power of all employees to make their organisation the best in its field through developing alignment and engagement.
At its core Hoshin Kanri starts with leaders engaging their teams in developing an organisation’s vision. A natural sequence of steps flows from this point. The gap between the current state and the future vision creates the need for the team to define goals or objectives, which help determine the vital few measures and associated targets (key performance indicators). The teams determine the actions or projects necessary to achieve those targets and the resources necessary to do so. A ritual of review and feedback of learning from executing the activities is necessary at the shortest possible interval to ensure progress towards the target conditions is being made at the required rate. The three key reflective questions for the team to consider are:
- Did we do what we said we would do (when we said we would)?
- Did those actions have the intended effect (on the key measures)?
- Are these results still important to our key stakeholders?
The methodology continues through tiers in an organisation to ensure alignment between the planned activities of all teams against the stated goals.
In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world the need for this structured yet flexible methodology for alignment and engagement has arguably never been greater.
What did your last engagement survey say about your organisation? Or your team? How do you ensure that your team are aligned and engaged in realising your organisation’s goals? What difference is it making to your performance?