I could literally cite dozens of recent research studies around the hundreds of millions of dollars of time energy and money that has been spent on employee engagement.
With all of those millions, time, energy and resources invested, today 2 out of 3 employees globally are NOT engaged.
The reason they are not engaged despite all the efforts is because they are not enabled to do the right thing, at the right time, the right way, for the right reason.
More important than creating engaged, energized employees is making sure they are enabled to solve customer problems inside and out.
Engagement with no enablement tied to a customer experience or outcome is a complete waste of everybody’s time, energy and money.
Let me give you a visceral example.
I was driving down the original street of California, El Camino Real, a.k.a., The King’s Highway.
Ok, I wasn’t driving, my beautiful wife was driving, like usual.
As we approached a traffic light, in my peripheral vision I saw a sign guy spinning his sign into a triple axle similar to Shaun White.
The mattress sign guy then did a forward dismount into an air guitar jam which he then seamlessly transitioned to turning the mattress sign into a skate board. He then jumped off the ramp, turning the sign into a virtual mattress which he was lounging on.
I said, “Oh my gosh! Did you see what that guy did? He just turned his sign into a snowboard, guitar, skateboard then back into a mattress!”
Now consider this. This is a guy who is being paid the same amount of money as every other sign guy on every other corner of the The King’s Highway.
This guy, however, was highly engaged.
He was highly energized.
The problem was, all this engagement and all of his energy that he demonstrated through this flawless and obviously rehearsed acrobatics meant nothing to me as a customer.
This guy was not enabled to solve any of my customer needs. Unless, of course, I was in the market for a mattress.
Unfortunately, as I sat in the passenger seat on El Camino Real in La Costa admiring his engagement and energy, I wasn’t in the market for a mattress.
As a result of traveling two out of every three days, I am exposed to a lot of service interactions and experiences.
Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than NOT being helped by a highly engaged, highly energized associate or employee.
If that highly engaged and highly energized employee can’t serve me, solve my problem or improve my experience then that engagement and energy only serves to frustrate, irritate and cause me to retreat into the jelly fish survival mode position.
There is nothing more frustrating than a happy, engaged associate who has no enablement to serve the customer (inside or out).
The inverse is equally true.
If you had to pick only one out of these three; employee engagement, energized workforce or enabled to solve customer problems, which one would you choose?
It is much better to have enabled employees aligned with a solution that meets the customer’s needs than it is to have employee engagement.
Here’s another visceral example.
A mere five stop lights later on El Camino Real we passed at least another four sign people displaying their signs. At the next intersection we hit a red light and I observed what was certainly the pond scum of the sign twirlers.
When I say pond scum, I mean this guy had the energy of an amoeba.
He didn’t look at any of the drivers. He didn’t pull any Shaun White moves. He didn’t even have enough engagement or energy to point his sign in the direction of the establishment that was advertised on his placard.
In fact, this sign guy was so disengaged, he actually leaned on the sign and pointed it downward so you had to turn your head to read it as he rested his body upon it. He was clearly so disengaged I could tell he was counting the minutes until he could drop his sign.
As my beautiful wife made the right turn, I hit her on her left shoulder and said, “Oh my gosh, did you see that sign? Pull in!”
She looked at me and said, “What are you so excited about? Another sign guy doing acrobatics?”
I said, “No, that guy was asleep, or maybe even dead because I think he fell upon his sign like a samurai sword. But, as we turned I read his sign and it said; Back hurt? Need an adjustment? 15 minutes or less. No appointment needed. $29!”
I thought to myself, my back actually hurts. Maybe I should stop in. I have an extra 15 minutes.
The point is, if you have engaged employees running around trying to sell mattresses to people who only buy them every 5 or 6 years it doesn’t matter if they can surf, skate, ski or dance with their signage.
Unless you are in the market, you’d rather do business with someone who can help you.
Engagement without filling a customer need is like planting a seed in cement! It still isn’t solving a customer problem or making the experience better even if you have engaged employees.
Now, imagine if you could put those two scenarios together. Here is how it works.
When you have engaged employees who are enabled to solve a customer need or problem it creates positive energy which leads to greater engagement.
P.S. I just wish I was in the market for a mattress.