AB Thinks  →  2nd November 2022

Employee engagement: Closing the FEEL–DO gap

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How do we measure the impact of internal communications? Proving just how effective our work is as IC practitioners can be key to getting buy-in from the C-Suite, but traditional employee engagement metrics can be limiting.

Often, measurement simply provides a look at how people feel, and not what they actually do.

That’s what Mike Klein told Katie Macaulay on episode 69 of The Internal Comms Podcast. Mike has long been sceptical of the effectiveness of employee engagement surveys that measure emotion. If you look at your workforce like a sports team, he asks, do more cheers equal more winning, or does more winning lead to more cheering? As such, do your colleagues perform better when they feel good, or do they feel good because they’re productive and their output is great?

“Fans are much more engaged when the team is winning,” he says. “But I don’t know of any team that has won more consistently because the fans are cheering louder.”

The ‘gold standard’ employee engagement survey, the Gallup Q12, asks respondents questions like “does your manager seem to care about you?” The answer to this question, Mike argues, has little to no bearing on how effective you are as an internal communicator. Many colleagues can have great relationships with their peers, while still feeling stretched to their limits by workload, or under-rewarded.

The answer? Rethinking the ‘think, feel, do’ approach to IC.

“The biggest weakness with this approach was that it wasn’t reflecting the actual roles of people within the organisation,” Mike told Katie. “Particularly as they pertain to change and to specific organisational objectives. ‘Think, feel, do’ overemphasises the ‘feel’.”

Turning that framework around and making it ‘do, know, feel, say’ is a much more useful framework to use when a senior stakeholder comes to you with an ask. Getting to the crux of the action you need to take to better perform at work is the key first step to boosting overall productivity. It provides senior leadership with a benchmark of what is doable, what has been done, and what teams struggle to output.

Close the FEEL–DO gap and you’ll have a much better idea of how well your workforce is performing.

Listen to the full episode here.

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