The phrase ’employee engagement’ could be a major stumbling block in getting a CEO to embrace engagement, according to an experienced engagement expert.
Jane Sparrow, a former director of employee engagement and change at Sony, has written a book, The Culture Builders, looking at the challenges of helping business leaders understand the benefits of engaging a workforce.
And one of the main problems, says Jane, is the use of the well-used industry term ’employee engagement’.
She told the IoIC website: “The biggest challenge is the phrase ‘employee engagement’.
“I find it’s so overused that it’s a label for a process that becomes a huge turn-off. Business leaders want to hear about outcomes and not just the process to get there.
“In other cases, for some CEOs, they think they are engaging – it’s just not in the way the communicator would like them to do it. For others, there’s a challenge that they lack confidence.”
Jane is leading an Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) insight seminar tomorrow (Thursday, 21 November) on working effectively with a CEO on engagement – a common challenge for IC professionals.
She said: “The biggest thing to watch for is not to talk about the process and the ‘what’ as much as the ‘why’ and what it will deliver and making sure that this is something the CEO feels the organisation needs.
“Sometimes we get so passionate about how it could work and trying new things, and then discussions become about the mechanics rather than being clear on outcomes and the clear return on investment.
“We need to be sure we are talking the language of the person we’re sharing the idea with.
“If a senior leader does not appear to be supportive, think what is it that we’re struggling with here?
“Is it that they don’t want to engage, or is that they don’t think what you’re proposing is the right approach in relation to the objectives?”