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The Engagement Zone sat down with #Engagement101 Fellow Christine Comaford, Founder of SmartTribes Institute – a neuroscience-based consultancy aimed to find blind spots in leaders helping them and their organisation to perform higher. You can download their infographic on Performance Motivation here.
EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?
CHRISTINE: It means employees loving their jobs, bringing new ideas to the table, innovating, expressing themselves fully via their work, owning their role with pride, knowing they are making a difference, expanding their identity as a result of the challenges and opportunities they experience at work. It means feeling thankful for the cool job they have and for the opportunity to contribute their time to a meaningful endeavour.
EZ: What are your three tips for companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?
CHRISTINE: 1. Make sure you have a compelling mission, vision and set of values that everyone lives, breathes, gets acknowledged for living up to. It starts at the top—make sure the leaders are engaged as they will help engage others.
2. Focus on performance motivation, not performance management: have Impact Descriptions, not Job Descriptions; self-evaluations, not scary performance reviews and individual development plans.
3. Do an SBM (Safety, Belonging & Mattering) Index every 6 months to track the emotional experience your employees are having. Then add cultural programs to address problem areas.
EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?
CHRISTINE: Companies often fall short of not making their engagement strategy real and emotional. Human beings are emotional beings. We must ensure they are communicated with openly. We honor each other, we hold one another accountable, we understand a person’s capacity and capabilities and we treat them with respect as a valuable asset not a cog in the machine.
EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?
CHRISTINE: Employees fail to buy in when engagement feels fake and insincere. Engagement strategies that fail only care about performance versus creating a cool place to work where awesome things are made to thrill clients!
EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?
CHRISTINE: Most leaders I meet are fairly low on emotional intelligence—and inability to be emotionally resilient is the result. All leaders must be trained in how to lead, influence, navigate change, create optimal teams in specific ways to engage the brain. This helps to engage the heart since the emotional center is then addressed.
EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement Awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?
CHRISTINE: Companies that made a real difference for their tribe—tangible results in solving a specific and meaningful problem or challenge. Engagement that is beyond just one small slice; it is as encompassing as possible. For wellbeing, there needs to be a lot more than just initiatives, there’s emotional, mental, financial, relationship, community component. How many areas will the award finalists touch?
EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Engagement to Customer Engagement and why?
CHRISTINE: There are 3 key types of engagement we must address now: Leadership Engagement, Employee Engagement & Customer Engagement.
Top-down, the leaders affect the employees who affect the customers – all aspects are necessary.
EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?
CHRISTINE: Mysterious Ways by U2
EZ: Thank you, Christine!
Read more insightful interviews on the Employee Engagement Zone