In the late 2000s the UK Government commissioned a study to look into this exact question. The Macleod Review identified the following enablers:
- Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organization, where it’s come from and where it’s going.
- Engaging managers who: (a) Focus their people and give them scope (b) Treat their people as individuals and (c) Coach and stretch their people.
- There is employee voice throughout the organization, for reinforcing and challenging views; between functions & externally; employees are seen as central to the solution.
- There is organizational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day to day behaviours. There is no “say-do” gap.
The study found that a real link exists between engagement and performance and that the former precedes the latter. It concluded that engaged employees perform better: perhaps by working harder, longer and/or smarter. Engaged employees have been shown to work more vigorously, offer innovative suggestions, and to pursue their work objectives in the face of even quite substantial obstacles. The value of these behaviours undoubtedly varies across contexts, but every organization has employees whose engagement makes a meaningful difference to organizational success, and understanding how to manage engagement is therefore a crucial business issue.
Why am I raising employee engagement? I raise it because in my daily interaction across the Education sector I see a definite lack of it in our schools. Our schools should be "hotbeds" for engagement given our mandate to prepare our learners to occupy their adult spaces in our future society. Our curriculum encourages teacher-to-learner and learner-to-learner engagement, yet it is often non-existent in the daily operational practices within schools. If we elevate the notion of engagement to our Management Teams at school level, the scenario is even more disconcerting. School leaders are "dead" to engaging their fellow educators. It is easier to "drown" themselves in the administration of Education than pursuing active management of learning environments. And because of this, our learners are feeling the effects of this pattern-of-management in our classrooms and slowly disengaging from the curriculum, with disastrous results.
What do you think of the levels of engagement in your school/place of work? Do leave a comment