Ultimately, the purpose of all enterprises is to make lots of money and to be profitable. But is this the goal or the objective?
When I was writing my first book – “Detecting and Reducing Supply Chain Fraud” (www.supplychainfraud.com, Gower/Routledge, August 2012) – I cited statistics by Gallup (www.gallup.com) that referred to employee engagement in the workplace. Employee engagement is an important factor in fraud reduction: the more an employee feels like they are part of the company and has a vested interest in decisions and outcomes, the less likely that the employee is going to be a disruptive force, let alone commit fraud.
Engaged Employees are those that are productively moving companies forward; think of these employees as the “movers-and-shakers”. Engaged employees can be found anywhere: offices, cubicles, warehouse or factory floor. It does not matter their location or position on the organizational chart. What matters is their capacity to effect change and the company’s ability to let them affect change.
Not Engaged employees are the “worker bees”. Companies need these folks because they do the important jobs that require the more-often-than-not unappreciated roles. I continually remind myself of a terrific dinner meeting speaker, circa 2003, who asked the audience: “Who is the last person who touches a customer’s goods?” There were approximately 100 or more in the audience, and we all looked around at each other as we each, initially, stumbled for answers to reply back with. One by one, some of us answered with various job titles, such as “waiter”, “bartender”, “warehouse picker”, “cashier”.
The speaker noted that, while those were all good answers, they were not the answer that he was looking for, but they did have one thing in common which was the answer he sought: they were all the lowest paid employee. And isn’t it always the case that it is the lowest paid employee upon whom the highest performance expectation is heaped, and whom gets made redundant first when something goes wrong, despite having been given the least training or opportunity to correct?
Disengaged Employees are those people who are so disgruntled with their jobs that they take actions to intentionally thwart progress and cause disruptive behavior. Disengaged Employees can be at any organizational level, from senior or middle management to supervisors to rank-and-file. Decisions made based on pride and politics, and not in the best interest of the organization, can be considered those made by a Disengaged Employee, e.g., a person in a white-collar role who is bypassed for a promotion, or a lowest paid worker who is continually overlooked for their contributions. It is disingenuous to just think of Disengaged Employees as only those who are lowest paid, though certainly low pay and no advancement opportunity will disenfranchise an employee.
The statistics from Gallup’s reporting from 2006 to June 2020 are amazingly consistent. On the average across these time periods, 33% of employees were engaged, 51% were not engaged, and 16% were Disengaged. Essentially, for each two steps forward, a company takes one step backwards.
Sports matches (except for golf) are won when one contestant scores more goals before the end of play versus the other contestant(s). The objective? To win the match, contest, game. How? By scoring more goals first before the endpoint. As such, goals have a short-term perspective and objectives have a long-term outlook.
Employees will generally find it difficult to gravitate to strategic objectives such as profit margins, monthly minimums, or conceptual out-of-reach milestones. Not because they are not smart, but because it is just not a goal for them as they get through their daily work. Go back and look at the Gallup statistical analysis of the employees, and this is likely a good reflection of your own workforce.
Goals need to be personal to be achievable. Goals need to be relatable to be attainable. The goal of perfect order entry or perfect order fulfillment, assuming that software systems, equipment, and business processes all support such an endeavor. Why? Because each and every one of us hates getting anything we ordered that was fulfilled incorrectly, whether in-person or shipped to us.
Goal achievement will lead to objective realization. The more orders completed perfectly, the happier customers will be. With more happier customers, these happier customers will tell their friends, and the company will have even more customers ordering products or services, so less money spent on customer acquisition which is expensive anyway. More customers, more orders, more revenue.
I find that poor execution is due to company management focused too much on the esoteric when instead they should be targeting the immediate. Instead of beating up employees to get to a monthly number how about empowering employees to work towards their goals and achieve job satisfaction?
Performance metrics are important and do tell a tale, but they don’t always reveal the entire story, especially as I have unfolded here. As an executive, why aren’t you doing more to recognize and reduce the percentage of Disengaged Employees? Can you shift Not Engaged employees to be more Engaged, even just a little bit? I hope so, it’s part of your management role. Your company’s performance will improve, and your objectives will be met without as much effort because of it.
Author Bio: –
Norman Katz is the President of Katzscan Inc. (www.katzscan.com), a US-based consultancy celebrating its 25-year anniversary in January 2021. Katzscan specializes in improving supply chain performance, business operating effectiveness, strategic software applications, and information insights. Norman is a multiple book author and a worldwide speaker and writer.