February 2016

Why Engagement is NOt Enough
Culture Trumps Engagement Every Time

The concept of Employee Morale was first explored in the 1920's followed by Employee or Job Satisfaction in the 1930's.  This initial work spawned a wide variety of approaches to defining and measuring satisfaction. (Remember Comparison Theory, Expectation-Achievement Discrepancy, Instrumentality, Equity-based Models, Social Influence, or the Two-Factor Model from your college studies?)

Conclusions about the impact of job satisfaction on key business results varied greatly over the decades depending on how satisfaction was defined, the measurement technique used and the quality of the research.  As a result, just like customer satisfaction, the value of addressing employee satisfaction came to somewhat of a dead-end.  Satisfaction turned out to be a necessary but not sufficient factor in impacting key organization outcomes.

The more promising concept of Employee Engagement arose in the 1990's.  In general, engagement's correlation to measures such as employee retention, customer service and productivity tended to stronger than those found with satisfaction.  Emphasis placed on correlation because correlation was often misinterpreted as causation.  Therein lays the rub with engagement - the old chicken-or-the-egg paradox.  Measuring and addressing employee engagement has its benefits.  But the debate about engagement actually leading or predicting meaningful results rolls on.  In addition, there is some indication that improvements made by addressing engagement may be tough to sustain over time.

Enter Organizational Culture.  Organizational Culture had a genesis similar to satisfaction - widely diverging definitions and fuzzy concepts that were interesting but not very useful.  That was the case until the research conducted at the University of Michigan by Dan Denison and his colleagues.  Their work identified the factors that comprise the perception of any organization's culture, factors that could be reliably measured, understood and improved.  The initial and subsequent research found strong correlation of the culture factors to revenue growth, return on investment, quality, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.  Even better, Denison's more recent research confirmed that culture is a leading indicator of organization performance measures such as Return-on-Assets, Sales Growth and Market-to-Book Ratio. 

Engagement trumps satisfaction but culture trumps engagement.  Organization leaders can drive future business results by understanding and improving their organization's culture.
Want to learn more?
Feel free to contact me to learn more about how to build a culture that drives business results.
 First Annual Strategic Talent Management Survey
Exploring Talent Practices That Make a Difference
We are collaborating with the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association and the Pittsburgh Technology Council to help organizations identify and apply Talent Management practices that make a difference.
Many leadership teams struggle to formulate a talent management strategy that maps out their goals and priorities linked to their organization's strategic plan and goals.  The reasons why are varied, but without a talent management strategy and plan, the results are usually the same - the HR team is not seen as playing a strategic role, and talent management isn't given the organizational importance it should.
Often the hardest part is getting started with the right framework for the strategy and plan. A growing body of evidence shows that certain talent management tools and processes have an impact on the overall performance of organizations in terms of growth, returns and customer value. The PHRA, the Tech Council and I invite you to participate in the First Annual Strategic Talent Management Survey  to better understand how companies in our region are using these talent practices to drive results.
This Strategic Talent Management initiative is a unique opportunity in several respects:
  • The survey explores the application of specific talent practices and technology.
  • The survey gathers information on organization performance.
  • It includes the opportunity to participate in a Survey Summit on Thursday, March 24 to delve into the survey results, learn what's working and to compare notes with colleagues.
  • It includes the opportunity to attend Application Workshops in which leaders and talent professionals can learn about and apply the top practices that make a difference.
  • The STM Survey will be repeated annually so that we can track trends and progress.
All those participating will be eligible to win a Free Pass to the Survey Summit and Application Workshops!
The survey closes on Friday, March 4.
Michael's Upcoming Events

Who's Taking Over:  Creating Your Next Generation of Leaders

Workshop presented by Michael and Richard Citrin

Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management

Pittsburgh, PA

March 10, 2016


Strategy Execution:  Living Your Mission, Vision and Values

Presentation at the Valve Manufacturers Association Annual CEO Forum

March 22, 2016

Denver, CO


HR's Role in Executing Strategy

Presentation at the Maryland State SHRM Conference

October 9 -11, 2016

Ocean City, MD


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