Is ‘Engagement’ the right measure?

I attended a very good event with Reward Gateway recently in London, their 1st Engagement Excellence Summit.

For anyone that was not aware of the event or could not make it, here is a summary Wakelet for you to see the tweets that were shared during the event ->

I attended some brilliant talks by @kelly_swingler on spotting burnout, @Stephen_TBIF from the Big Issue, the incredible team from @Debate_Mate on how to have non-violent, adult-adult debates (boy do we need more of those in the corporate world!) and the always awesome @claudesilver wrapped up with an excellent closing keynote talk around her role as Chief Heart Officer of Vayner Media.

This event was really good, but on listening to the talks and on reflecting that the global engagement stats have not moved from 1 in 3 being fully engaged for almost a decade – I ask openly and without judgement – “Are we measuring the right things from a human-centered point of view?” to truly move the hearts and minds of our people and let’s be open – tap into more than 33p in the £1 of the salaries that we are already paying for, on average, as according to Gallup.

This is very much a ‘working out loud’ blog so any challenges or thoughts are welcomed.

Encouragement over Engagement?

I do not pretend to have all the answers.

Humans are messy, complex and variable – but that is the fun part!

Something that Claude Silver cited on the day but also wrote about recently (as per pic below) really struck a chord with me.  The origins of the word Courage:

Claude LI post

There is nothing I can challenge with Claude’s post above.  Not that I am a groupie or in an echo-chamber – just that from a place of deep human-centred heart & soul, I fully agree that this is the way the world of work, leadership and indeed society is going and it can’t arrive fast enough for me.

How would we measure Encouragement?

This now leads me to question if and how we should measure encouragement.

I am not a scientist, so this is not scientific, but THAT is part of the challenge here.

Science has led us to incredible understandings, but when we seek to prove, almost without any room for doubt, that something is true, we leave little space for flexibility, creativity, and growth.

So how about we experimented with measuring Encouragement on the following basis:

  1. En(Trust) – Trust people to take accountability, to know how best to run their own role and to operate from a place of deep humanity vs the outdated fear-based myopic focus on just metrics
  2. Courage – Create human-centered cultures where it is safe to challenge the status quo whether that be practices, senior leaders or each other.  Also, people should feel safe enough to take educated risks without fear of reprisal, yet if they see wrong-doing have the courage to speak up
  3. (Mo)Ment – An acceptance that we are all, every single one of us, in the moment human beings.  This is a relatively new realisation for me personally and one that many have not ‘woken up’ to yet.

For example, spending 6 months of the year budget planning for the next 12 months is one of THE biggest wastes of human potential on the planet when current year + 10% rule of thumb has just as much chance of being accurate!

Let’s free up this time from the fear-based budget process and allow our people to use that time to focus on the following three areas that I feel we need to prioritise to best navigate the ongoing pace of change & adaptability required as humans increasingly augment technology:

  • Now-term over short-term

We only have the now, so how do we create environments in ALL sectors that support creativity, innovation, collaboration and inclusion ‘as standard.’?

  • Presence over speed

This is the biggest challenge I feel of the three measurements that I propose.  We have socialised presenteeism, bias and fear to such an extent in the workplace, that people feel all but paralysed to stop.

Only by stopping, more often, do we access our innate resourcefulness, more often.  As I shared on a podcast with Piers Thurston ( previously, I am approx 1/3rd more productive than 12 months ago due to the ability to get present and out of my own head, more often

  • Conversation (regularly) over box-ticking & formal reviews

A lot has been spoken around moving to regular conversations vs annual reviews so this shift is happening positively.  However to maximise more positive encouragement and a helpful platform for feedback, conversations really do have to happen regularly and with so many technologies out there to aid this whether pulse, weekly, monthly etc, now really is the time to step up our level of interaction with one another, for the benefit of all.

The above three areas of measure are ALL qualitative in nature.  That means we need to talk more often and to iterate more often based on what we are talking about.

Yes we can build evidence over time as I have shown with a team that grew > 40% in sales and > 40% in margins over a 3 year period through being intentionally human-centered vs the previous set-up, but if we are going to make the most of our human experience (HX), that one known shot at life on this planet, we need to move away from an obsession with quantitative metrics, whilst helpful and they have a place, and embrace a world of more volatile, exciting and variable qualitative measures such as those cited above.

I wrote recently that I truly feel we are about to hit a ‘Moore’s Curve’ spike in human potential – Do you agree or challenge this?

My summary message, get comfortable with NOT knowing.  It is actually a rather freeing place to operate from.

Thanks for reading this blog if you got this far.

PS – If you did get this far, on the theme of Courage we are entering the final third of the FREE Have Courage Online Summit which you can find here ->


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