Are Your Organization’s Systems in Alignment with Your Employee Engagement Initiatives?

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When organizations are confronted with situations where they just aren’t achieving the level of buy-in that they were expecting or hoping for, it often helps to start your analysis by thinking back to W. Edwards Deming’s words, “A bad system will beat a person every time.”

Organizations must ensure that their systems are in alignment with the results that they desire. Whether it’s increasing productivity, morale, buy-in, or as in the following case, a more communicative information-sharing environment, a comprehensive focus must be placed on the desired outcome. For example, I recall a manager who wanted to carve out some time for her staff to get to know each other better and improve communication. She came up with an idea to have monthly, company paid, all employee team luncheons.  The idea was good, but the execution was lacking. You see, often, the luncheons were scheduled at times that interfered with production deadlines. So, instead of creating an environment where staff could openly discuss various topics, everyone was more focused on leaving the luncheon as fast as possible so that they could get back to work and not have to work as late that day. This was a classic example of not thinking through the “system or initiative” that was put in place to achieve a desired outcome.

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It wasn’t until an employee team-building event that this matter surfaced. We were charting an expectations exercise where teams, leaders, and employees were grouped together, and each group listed what they thought was expected from them and from the other groups. The desired outcome of the luncheons was achieved when both leaders and employees openly discussed the matter. The leadership wasn’t aware that staff felt “punished” by forcing them to attend the luncheons that coincided with various work deadlines. It was a simple but powerful moment for the leadership team when they heard this, and they immediately changed the luncheon dates to ensure that they did into interfere with critical deadlines. This is the power of fostering a work environment that encourages open and timely communication!

Below are some additional real-life work examples taken from expectations exercises where teams identified for their leaders their biggest frustrations and their desired solutions.

Follow through on all commitments

Example: Assignment of additional work with the promise of more staff, but additional staff never comes! Hire additional staff…

Be your team’s advocate

Example: Sales invoices are posting incorrectly to the commission compensation software. We have identified the issues and have a solution, but the information technology department has us at the bottom of their “to do” list. This adds eight additional hours of work per month for what can be an “easy fix.” HELP!

Stop “punishing” high-performers

Please hold everyone accountable. It seems the better an employee you are, the more work you get. On the other hand, the more difficult someone is to work with, it’s as if they get rewarded by being left alone and not given any additional work.  Stop this!

Be clear about expectations

Be clear with expectations and how we will be held accountable. While it doesn’t happen often, it hurts when we think we’re doing a good job only to find out that the final product isn’t what you expected. We care and want to do a good job but feel horrible when we let you down. Please be clear on your expectations!

In closing, when organizations implement any new initiative, no matter how trivial it may seem, it is imperative that thought be given to ensure that the action or system is congruent with the desired outcome.

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Chris Boguslaw

Chris Boguslaw is the author of Move Over, Move Up, or Move On: 9 Proven Leadership Lessons for Optimal Results and the president of “Team Bogie,” a consulting firm that helps individuals and teams to achieve optimal performance. Chris began his career in the Human Resources and Employee Engagement/Development fields while serving in the U.S. Army. He continues to fuel his passion for improving employee and organizational performance today.

A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University with a Master of Education degree in instructional systems design, Chris was part of the select “Mobile Training Assist Team” (MTAT) working with the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), tasked with training staff to ensure the safety of cargo and passenger air travel after the tragic events of 9/11. Additionally, he was responsible for managing both training and administrative operations while employed at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Philadelphia Homeownership Center, and with the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport.

Chris has served as a part-time adjunct faculty member at Gwynedd Mercy University, where he has taught various management-related topics for master’s, bachelor, and associate degree programs.

He is a highly sought-after presenter and facilitator, where his workshops focus on employee engagement, leadership development, communication skills, team building, and customer service.

To learn more about Chris and Team Bogie, visit

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

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