Bolstering engagement from the C-level downward

In a recent piece for Forbes, contributor Roger Trapp outlined the findings of an extensive effort to research employee engagement, as spearheaded by management consultancy Bain & Co.

The study, which involved the analysis of data that offered insight into more than 200,000 employees from across the globe, revealed a pyramid of engagement that saw levels of involvement and emotional investment in a company decrease concurrently with the professional hierarchy.

“Essentially, the Bain analysis … shows that employee engagement levels drop as soon as they leave the C-suite of senior executives,” explained Trapp. “They continue to fall between upper levels of management and lower levels of organizations, so that by the time frontline positions are reached they are exponentially lower.”

Lackluster engagement + a customer-facing workforce = a recipe for disaster

Firms would be wise to view the existence of this pyramid of engagement as cause for alarm. After all, in many instances, the workers on the lowest rungs of the professional ladder are often those in customer-facing positions, and dissatisfied consumers have the power to significantly affect a company’s bottom line. Indeed, it could be said that disgruntled customers wield more power nowadays than at any other point in the history of commerce, what with the rise of social media, the reality of the global marketplace and the phenomenon of “going viral,” to name just three modern trends. With regard to social media, businesses should be aware that what began as a negative but seemingly harmless tweet, Facebook comment or Yelp review can blow up virtually overnight, drawing mass attention from the press and the public alike and ultimately causing immense embarrassment to a brand and the firm behind it.

So, what’s the solution to this problem? According to Rob Markey, global head of Bain’s customer marketing and strategy practice and author of the report, empowering employees to make their own decisions by relaxing restrictive corporate policies and encouraging them to deploy inventive problem-solving tactics can go a long way when it comes to boosting worker engagement, which will in turn bolster customer satisfaction.

“It’s abundantly clear that if you want to earn the enthusiastic advocacy of customer, employees have to be enthusiastic advocates,” he said, as quoted by the news source.

Building on current C-suite engagement

Although engagement in the C-suite is higher than at other corporate levels, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for improvement.

In a 2010 article for Bloomberg Businessweek titled “Mastering the Art of Executive Engagement,” Jeneanne Rae offered tips to help corporate leaders put together effective, efficient and relevant executive workshops, stressing the importance of the following aspects:

  • being realistic about time and scheduling constraints
  • selecting a list of dynamic and passionate guest speakers
  • framing new information with the relevant context
  • presenting attendees with example situations they may well face as part of their roles and encouraging them to come up with solutions collaboratively
  • deploying a “think outside the box” approach that transcends the traditional limitations of the industry and facilitates innovative thought processes

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

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