And now time for the second installment of Christa Degnan's Manning's discussion on HR's obsession with obsolete processes, and we've got some more fascinating data to share from our new employment engagement study of 5,000 worldwide employees, conducted with the support of KellyOCG:
Why senior managers are almost as disengaged as their subordinates
Curious how leadership could be contributing to this poor employee engagement situation, we also looked at engagement by workplace hierarchy. By the nature of being a front-line employee, lower levels of responsibility and autonomy might drive disengagement as they are typically on the receiving end of orders or the bottom of the goal cascading process in the HR process world. (What is it that they say about what runs downhill?)
While we did find higher levels of engagement the higher up the proverbial ladder one goes in an organization, the key take away for us was the difference wasn't that much. This actually supports another data point near the top of the list of challenges that need to be overcome to improve engagement: #4 is “More engaged and energized management.”
The reality is that companies are simply not investing in their people across the board; even senior leaders report a lack of support to develop new skills and capabilities. The #2 overall challenge to engagement is “Focus on career path and development,” right after “Smarter management talent.”
Get rid of the rank and yank
I would argue in today’s lean, mean virtual global marketplace, the main culprits to these issues is the cut backs in training, including face-to-face travel and events, and the all-too-pervasive “performance rating on the curve” system, which means that for one worker to win another has to lose. In a world where workers may be asked to calibrate colleagues’ performance having never been given the opportunity to even meet in person, the traditional curve approach is demoralizing, demotivating, and downright destructive because it is completely obsolete in the virtual, mobile, social, flexible workplace.
If so much of work today has been outsourced or arranged through contingent workers or specialty statement of work (SOW) consultants, companies should only have their very best people left. With many business models shifting and people assuming multiple roles, there should be more rigorous training and opportunities for real connections in place. And companies should ask: is it fair to compare worker contribution just because they are the same band level? Or a worker in the U.S. to someone in France who legally has twice the time off (and is almost impossible to fire?)
I would also argue that senior executives are disengaged almost as much as the rest of the workforce because they have been the products of these outdated processes and are being asked to perpetuate them. They are also victims because they killed themselves to get and stay at the top of the curve in performance ratings, then too often are rewarded by being asked “to take one for the team” with a “stretch assignment” that has nothing to do with their strengths, interests, family commitments, or their own career aspirations – other than moving up – or staying on the same rung – of the ladder in the business.
Stay tuned for Part 3 (click here to read), where Christa discusses measures enterprises can take to improve the engagement levels of their staff and invest more in humans and less on systems...