• http://www.facebook.com/christopher.young.965 Christopher Young

    Great post and I completely agree.  You have to know what drives your employees to engage and motivate most effectively.  Values are not easily observable like behaviors…  What methods do you recommend for learning someone’s motivators / values?  

    • Jerry Holtaway

      To be honest, there are core human values which are there to tap into; the task for employee engagement is to link what the company aims to do to what individuals want: to do work that matters. Personal relevance and emotional importance are the goals.

  • John A Bushfield

    Jerry – With all due respect, the notion of using feelings as the vehicle to understand values is dead wrong.  How somebody feels at any given point in time can be influenced by all sorts of inputs, and will likely change independent of any action the company might take. Its a vague platform that may have no relationship to what the company is trying to accomplish.  If companies are struggling with the articulation of their values then they need to revisit what it is they are trying to accomplish.  Sure, how somebody feels in important, but for a company to attempt to articulate their values through feelings is nonsense.

    • mkajbaf

      Hi John, IMO what Jerry is saying is that in order to internalize the values, you must have an emotional connection to them.  Otherwise it just falls dead.

      I don’t think it’s meant that engagement is a feeling, or that you try to influence people through an appeal to their emotion alone, it’s more that you can’t just give them a bunch of information that doesn’t connect at a deeper level.

      • Jerry Holtaway

        “Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be.“ – Wikipedia 

        Enterprises seek “appropriate” courses of action and outcomes, so they establish and communicate a set of corporate values. But, too many businesses find that employees aren’t sufficiently influenced by these values. In other words, they don’t fully embrace the ideals, they often act in “wrong” ways, and they don’t work together to create what “ought” to be.

        We’re not saying values, per se, are wrong. We’re simply making the case that the intent and meaning of a company’s values can be made more relevant and actionable when leadership thinks differently about the way they engage employees.

        We help our clients identify a unique “Emotional Space” – a set of four positive feelings – that are selected based on their ability to, when experienced by people within and outside the company, make the company truly matter.

        People will only feel this way (and the company will only matter) if everyone in the company shares the same intent, attitude and behavior, all of which need to embody and reflect the company’s values.

        Our belief is that employees will be more involved, creative, and purposeful when they see their task as helping others experience specific feelings. They can easily see how these feelings are rooted in what they believe, how they behave, and the meaningful outcome they (and the company) seek.

        It is challenging to understand the power of this approach in the abstract. However, in working with our clients, we have found it to be a useful way to see how processes, practices, policies and personal interactions within organizations can be evolved to better evoke specific feelings.

        From overarching policy decisions to individual conversations, feelings are a great way to bring corporate values alive and to make your business matter more to people.

        • mkajbaf

          Very well put!  Hope to see more leaders buy-in to this.

  • mkajbaf

    The problem I find is that the ones creating the values don’t even believe in them.  There is no passion about it, and they are simply means to an end.  If the leaders really only care about money, and these values are meant as vehicles to that goal, there won’t be the sincere emotional connection you are talking about.

    I wrote a post on my blog about why values are the #1 reason executive fail to engage employees.


    • Jerry Holtaway

      Excellent post on a challenging problem.

  • http://twitter.com/ongig Ongig

    Getting employees involved in changes with company policy and procedures is a great step. But what else can employers do to enhance company engagement? Put their hands in the changes if you have the time. Allow them to be involved in new hires, referrals, and recruitment. If they have good ideas, take them!