Engaged employees add value to the organization – they are productive and customer-focused as well as more likely to collaborate, respect resources, and act safely. Engaged employees drive successful outcomes and are likely to stay employed longer. According to Ken Scarlett, “Employee Engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization which profoundly influences their willingness to learn & perform at work.”[i] In other words engagement is more than satisfaction or good morale – it is the intrinsic connection between individuals and the organization.
There are many ways to engage employees. Fundamentally leaders need to ensure that employees know the mission of the organization (why we exist), and the organization’s current goals (the strategic plan) and how each employee’s performance contributes to those goals. People naturally want to contribute. The Gallup organization identified 12 core elements that strongly link to essential business outcomes. It is no surprise their research showed the first point of engagement is, “I know what is expected of me at work.”[ii]
Another terrific way to engage employees, especially those who show potential for larger assignments or more responsibility, is to offer a pathway for career growth. Internal mentoring programs can fill this niche. This type of program is what a savvy Minnesota non-profit organization is doing this year. We have framed a mentoring program will include:
- Managers as Mentors
- High potential employees as Mentees
- A year-long cohort of Mentors and Mentees meeting quarterly on key business topics
- Individual mentoring around a career development plan
- Mentees attending at least one profession development class during the year
- Mentees joining (if not already in) a professional association or networking group
- Mentees attending internal leadership development workshops
As we roll this new program out, I am confident this will organization will recognize many benefits. The process of identifying high potentials is a meaningful experience for managers who elevate their focus from evaluating day to day performance to looking deeper into individual potential – untapped abilities and internal drive. It is meaningful for the high potentials to convene as a cohort to exchange experiences and ideas, gain a broader organizational perspective, and explore focused professional development opportunities. This cohort of Mentees may be invited to take on additional projects, participate on project teams, experience cross-training, or possibly take temporary assignments outside of their department.
These Mentees will be learning by doing and making valuable contributions to the organization in the process. They will become intrinsically connected of the future of the organization and their careers within the organization.
[i] ScarlettSurveys.com © 2011-2014
[ii] Employee Engagement: What is Your Engagement Ratio?, Copyright © 2008, 2010 Gallup, Inc.,