I’ve sat on a number of committees and boards over the years and been part of hundreds of companies as an employee and counselor.  In doing so, I always gauge the level of commitment and engagement among colleagues and members to determine if success is attainable.

One recurring truth in my experience is that even in highly engaged environments success or even progress against a set of goals is not guaranteed.  Now this would seem to go against everything we read and are told about engagement – that it’s essential to achieving organizational success.

However, engagement without direction, clarity, measures, consequence, and reward is basically a more pleasant situation.  It’s akin to the famous quote “the operation was a success but the patient died.”

So before you run out to improve engagement in your organization or on your local committee ask yourself:

  • What are we here to accomplish?
  • What does it look like to customers?
  • How are we measuring progress?
  • How will we recognize achievement?
  • How will we address failure?
  • What do people need to do individually and collectively to win?
  • What do people need to know every day to contribute?

Engagement continues to be the holy grail of organizational excellence – the subject of countless books, blogs, presentations and conferences. The truth is engagement alone achieves little.  It must be part of leadership’s formula for managing the business with communications serving as both catalyst and fuel.   As communicators the most important question to answer becomes “is engagement a cause or symptom of our performance?”

How you answer will most assuredly dictate the future – good or bad!

Anything less, engagement becomes a feel good destination with little hope for sustained results.