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  • Louise Southam

What IS the secret to Engagement?


During my years of working within HR, I experienced the importance placed on the annual results of theemployee engagement survey. Heads of HR would wait with baited breath to find out if the scores had gone up or down from the previous year. It was such a tense time and the euphoria if the overall results were an improvement, was palpable. I would witness the schemes implemented to drive up scores and create a happy workforce. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. My role now helps leaders to engage with their people because engagement starts at the top.

I was recently at my client’s site where the leader of the business joined a year ago, at a time when engagement scores were at an all time low. The culture then mirrored that of his predecessor and the people felt undervalued, invisible, unappreciated and unloved. The atmosphere on the sales floor was so thick with resentment and unhappiness; I can’t imagine how any sales actually happened. Not surprisingly, attrition was close to 150%. The impact on the bottom line was evident.

Walking around a year later the change is incredible. The noise on the floor, the team's energy and vibrancy is electric. That previous ‘disengaged’ workforce is happy. They are hitting great sales figures and when I spoke to them, they told me how they feel valued, that they are ‘making a difference’ and they love their jobs. Wow, this is wonderful to be a part of.

The overall engagement score this year was 86%, which is a phenomenal achievement. This is testament to the work that this leader has done, how he has engaged through a number schemes, which make his people feel important. Interestingly, attrition this year is just over 40%, his people don’t want to leave. What was it about this leader that made the difference? To me, it’s his presence, what we otherwise know as charisma. When he walks around the sales floor, I witness the effect he has on people, how his presence makes them feel and I can honestly say, he’s just ‘being himself’.

Is the key to engagement, increased charisma? I believe it is.

Studies have shown that charisma is innate, which means we all have it already and those leaders that shine are tapping into their natural source. Harvard Business review stated that charismatic leaders are 68% more effective. If leaders increase their charisma, they will become more engaging and that will have a significant impact on the way they connect with their people. We know that engagement isn’t a ‘nice to have’; it’s fundamental to the success of every business.

The charismatic leader engages with his teams in a way that is authentic and the ripple effect of this is the annual engagement survey results. These are testament to how charisma really is the secret to engagement.

#engagement #charisma #effectiveleaders

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