No big surprise but yesterday’s blog got me thinking. Really thinking. I was disturbed when I thought about Harvey Schachter’s article that said that research showed that the most engaged staff may be the worst performers.
Here I was blithely coaching away to the proposition that increased employee engagement leads to better results. In fact I’ve probably said it many times in blogs and done just a few pictographs and several white papers on the subject.
So this new research made me think. What if instead of high engagement leading to great results, the high engagement was a product of the great results.
Just think about it for a second. If your team is playing well, you’re over the moon happy, highly engaged, right there with them. If it isn’t doing well, you’re mildly put off, disgruntled, or ack….disengaged.
Yes, you’re engaged when your team is doing well, disengaged when it’s doing badly.
What if that is true in business as well? Perhaps companies with good results have engaged employees because it is fun to work there when things are going well and there is money to spend on employee perks. When your company isn’t doing well, it isn’t fun to work in a stressful environment where the company doesn’t have extra money to spend on perks.
Perhaps employee engagement comes from good results and not the other way around.
This for me was a terrifying realization. That I who very conceitedly prides himself on understanding the difference between correlation and causality could confuse one for the other and miss the potential of reverse causality just because Gallup had done so much research on the subject of employee engagement. Rookie move.
From here on I pledge myself to figuring out whether results and engagement are merely correlated or whether there is a causal factor at work and engaged employees cause better results or vice versa.