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Employee Engagement Starts HERE (and nowhere else)

You’ve seen the rather frightening statistics put forth by the Gallup organization in recent years about employee engagement, right?

In short: 66% of U.S. workers are classified as “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.”

According to Deloitte*, 73 percent of employees who say they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged, compared to just 23 percent of those who don’t.

WHY are so many people not engaged? A lot of it boils down to this one major factor: Lack of (perceived and understood) purpose.

Bluntly – if I don’t know why I’m doing something, and how my team is contributing, and why my company existsI’m likely to have little loyalty and energy. This is an issue that will only grow greater with the Millennial generation.

Houston, we have a BIG problem. How can we get more of our people into the cohort Gallup describes as “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”?

Here’s what doesn’t fix the problem: an overall Mission/Vision Statement. That’s good for outlining the top-level motives and drivers of an organization, but it’s often too generic to inspire day-to-day purpose. What the vast majority of companies lack is this: department and team-level purpose statements. These are what actually drive employee attitudes and behaviors.

It is incumbent upon leaders to clearly, succinctly, and memorably explain the purpose and goals of the department. Often.

Here’s an exercise for you, as a department leader. Can each of your team members quickly explain the three primary ways your department adds business value to the overall organization (purpose)? Can they articulate how their goals, the department’s goals, and the company’s goals align (direction)?

Furthermore, are these short-hand clarity statements written down anywhere, and reinforced regularly? If not, you’re likely not creating the engagement levels you really want.

I’m guessing that in the vast majority of teams/departments, there is not a clearly-articulated and readily-embraced set of core principles that guide the members in an aligned direction. Life is busy. People move in and out. We get lost in the day-to-day tactical weeds.

The GREAT news is: it is possible to make purpose clear, by employing specific clarity statements. What could be more crucial? It’s the GPS that moves your team from where they are, to where you want them to go.

Recently, I facilitated a clarity session with 25 leaders of a Global function for a major biopharma company, and our goal was to hammer out a clear set of principles and business value statements that would differentiate the teams in the overall organization, and align the department(s) in every country. As a result, in one clear and succinct slide, there is now a GPS/roadmap to guide every current (and future) member of these teams in explaining why this function deserves a seat at the strategic table.

When arriving at organizational clarity statements, the relief is in the room is often palpable. Now we know where we’re going. And why. And how to explain it to other stakeholders (in plain language, not foggy jargon). It’s a form of internal branding, and it’s the key to purposeful engagement. Here’s another case study from my work with clients: Branding the Training Department.

If one of your goals for the coming year is gaining greater engagement and alignment, reach out to me ( and let’s have a talk. I am looking for TWO clients who want to end 2019 with team-level clarity, so that their 2020 kicks off with purpose and energy.

*For further reading: Deloitte’s 2020 Global Marketing Trends: Purpose is Everything

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