Forget Employee Engagement, Get Executives Engaged

With all the talk about employee engagement, we often
forget about the most important group that needs to be
engaged – the executives.

In too many companies, the executive team thinks that the
problem with engagement is a problem with the employees.
In essence, executives forget that employees are simply a
mirrored reflection of the management of the organization.

W. Edwards Deming noted that 85% to 90% of company issues
are systems problems with only 10% to 15% of issues as
people problems. Deming noted the following:

Systems Problems: Issues related to internal systems such
as training, resources, work environment, tools, culture,
behaviors, etc.

People Problems: Issues relating to personal skills,
education, motivation, intelligence, etc.

HR POINTER: We would classify executive engagement in the
category of a Systems Problem. The reason for this
classification is that management sets the culture of the

The key driver of engagement and culture in a business is
the CEO. If the CEO in not invested in the metrics that
drive employee engagement, then the executive team will
not be engaged and that cascades down through the

If the CEO is invested, then he/she needs to regularly
monitor the drivers of engagement and include those
metrics as part of the performance evaluation of each
member of the executive team.

In essence, the CEO needs to become more than the leader
of the business. The CEO needs to become the executive
coach to members of his/her team. This “coaching” role
will provide clarity of expectations to people at the VP

There is an old saying, “People pay attention to what
their supervisor pays attention to.” As such, the
executive team will not pay attention to the benchmarks of
engagement if the CEO doesn’t regularly monitor those
benchmarks and hold VPs accountable for engagement


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