EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP IN VUCA WORLD
Employee engagement has become an important agenda for business leaders. A survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Centre in 2013 has shown that this issue is among the top three priorities that executives pay attention to. They generally believe that this has become an important factor to support business performance and growth.
Various studies analyzing the causality between employee engagement and business performance have shown a diversity of results. Most of the reserches have found that employee engagement correlates with several process measures such as the increase of quality provided by the customer service, productivity, and other similar measures alike. However, some of the studies did not succeed in finding a strong correlation and are more generalized towards business performance measures such profits and the value of the company. There could be other moderate factors that affect employee engagement, its process, and end results, however there could also be time gaps between the increase of employee engagements and imporvements of the process and better results.
Under such circumstances, has employee engagement lost its urgency and importance to fight for? We need to understand in advance that employee engagement is not employee satisfaction, where the organization manages to provide what is expected by its employees or even beyond it. Employee engagement is also not merely a talk about loyalty and low turnover levels.
Employee Engagement is about commitment how one pays attention, devotes one's energy and focus on the works of the organization so that one exceeds more than the given tasks and responsibilities. Even though in practice the management of employee engagement often still falls on transactional activities, employee engagement is actually a great deal more than just a transaction of give and take.
Reciprocal Trust and Relation
Engagement is essentially a mutual and reciprocal trust and relation between the employee and the organization. There is always an engagement factor between leaders and those they lead. Engagement is not only within a cognition state but it also involves affection; not just the logic but also the heart. The metaphor regarding employee engagement in its ultimate point is like a "marriage" between two parties who are more into giving rather than demanding, brought together by a foundation of "love" which is much greater and stronger than an employment contract.
Once this is understood, employement engagement thus becomes an even more relevant matter to fight for. Why? Based on the results of the BCG study, it was discovered that more and more turbulence in the business world are occuring in an increasing intensity and with a longer duration within the last 10 years. Inevitably, our business world is more and more VUCA -Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambigue. In a world like this, it should be acknowledged that it would be more difficult for leaders to draw up an acurate and clear roadmap since the biginning.
Just lke music, it will be increasingly difficult for leaders to devise a perfect musical piece that is ready to be played without further changes so that the musicians only have to do their repetitions and play those notes according to the given musical sheets. Right now. leaders and the organizations they lead must be proficient and comfortable to play improvised jazz. Leaders may need even to be ready to prepare to create or compose new songs quickly when dealing with problems or opportunities.
Important agenda in an Increasingly "VUCA" Business World
In such a situation, the relation and transactional leadersip pattern will experience problems. In a VUCA world would not toll when the organization incorectly compose or is weak in executing its strategy; it will do so however, when more people in that organization are not putting their heart, mind, focus, and enery into the organization and their work. Employee engagement will keep them moving and their energy will drive them to look for ideas and ways to maintain the viability of the organization. An energy activator that relies solely on the strength of its leader while the employees are only acting as implementers - especially if the implementation was motivated purely by transactional - will quickly be depleted in a VUCA world.
This is one of the reasons why employement engagemetn must be the focus of business leaders who have their eyes set on the sustainability of the organization. And in an effort to build employee engagement, there needs to be an understanding of the scope and framework of employee engagement as a starting point to establish further actions. The first article in this edition tries to explain this in a nutshell.
Although there are few common matters in building employee engagement, we need to realize that establishing employee engagement is a two-way process that involes individual huan beings. Leaeders are the ones taking the initiative while the employees respond to it. Each personal uniqueness clearly plays an important role here. Leaders act upon thier uniqueness while the employee will respond with thier own. Even an identical action may trigger different reactions.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Please click this link to read the magazine.
LATERNA -Issue #1: May 2015