Only Leadership Can Close the 'Engagement Gap,' Says Noted Expert

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The "Engagement Gap" prevents most companies around the world from achieving their best results. Leadership expert, Brent Filson, shows how to close that gap through motivation, leadership, and communication.

The "Engagement Gap" that bedevils many companies around the world can be closed by a simple four-step process, says noted leadership authority Brent Filson.

The "Engagement Gap," a key indicator of employee motivation, has been detailed in a recent report conducted by Towers Perrin, a global professional services firm. The report found that only 21 percent of employees believe their organizations or their senior management are doing enough to help them become fully engaged and contribute to their companies' success. Such belief can contribute to a general lack of employee motivation and poor communication.

Furthermore, the study also found that firms with high motivation, the largest percentage of engaged employees collectively increased operating income 19 percent and earnings per share 28 percent year to year. Those companies with the lowest percentage of engaged employees showed year-to-year declines of 33 percent in operating income and 11 percent in earnings per share.

"Recognizing that an Engagement Gap exists in your company is important," says Filson, founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. "But closing that Gap is absolutely vital. and it's a endeavor of communication. Here's how:

1) Step One: Identify and validate the gap.

  • Acknowledge. Get the key decision makers in your organization must acknowledge there is an Engagement Gap and that it must be closed.
  • Agree. The decision makers must agree on the protocol of the study to obtain the data.
  • Clarify. The findings must be clear and unmistakable.
  • Communicate. The findings must be communicated to leaders of all ranks and functions.
  • Define stakes and promote their communication. The stakes which the findings formulate must be clarified, communicated, and agreed upon. In other words, what would happen to your organization if the Engagement Gap persists? Unless the decision makers agree on the stakes you cannot go forward with the process.

2) Develop A Strategy to close the gap.

Such a strategy must be as important to your company as its business strategy.

  • A steering committee represented by all ranks and levels of leaders must be formed to develop the strategy.
  • The strategy must be clear, comprehensive and motivational.
  • The steering committee must reach consensus on the strategy before it is rolled out.

3) Develop systems and processes to execute the strategy.

Once a strategy for closing the Gap has been agreed upon, execute the strategy through great communication, not through top-down orders but through the bottom-up, grassroots actions.

  • Small-unit leaders in the company must be enlisted as the key cause leaders for closing the Gap.
  • They must be supported with comprehensive leadership skills training.
  • Their efforts must be promoted and celebrated by senior leaders and the successes broadcast through systematic communication.

4) Monitor and evaluate.

Closing the Engagement Gap is not a point but a process. Closing it and making sure it stays closed is a function of putting into place monitoring and evaluating systems.

  • Those systems must have specific milestones and lead to measurable outcomes.
  • The measurements must be linked to the activities of the small-unit, cause leaders.
  • The measurements must be meaningful to those cause leaders to the extent they are ardently motivated to take action that meets their challenges.

"This four-step process can be one of the most important undertakings for any company," Filson says. "If an Engagement Gap is allowed to persist, it will be an ever-increasing drag on all functions, hampering productivity, reducing your market value, and diminishing your company's ability to attract and retain good employees."

The author of 21 books, Brent Filson first learned about leadership as a Marine Corps rifle platoon commander. For the past 25 years, as a civilian, he has helped thousands of leaders in major companies worldwide achieve sizable and continual increases in results. He has published many books and hundreds of articles, has developed motivational strategies and has created and instituted educational and training programs. He has lectured at Columbia University, M.I.T., Wake Forest, Villanova and other universities. He is the founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. His latest books, The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool and 101 Ways To Give Great Leadership Talks.

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