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Employee Engagement Is The Solution


Editor’s Note: We are honored to run a mini-series called The Values Revolution authored by our very own leaguer, Dana Theus. This is article 5 in the series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series HERE.

In my previous four posts I’ve explained and explored the dramatic trends in employee dissatisfaction, making the case for why it’s a misalignment in values that explains why 74% of today’s workers would like to walk off the job. In Part 4 I gave advice for what an individual leader can do to address this trend, but this is not a problem a single individual can fully address. Below is guidance for how to engage your employees and co-opt the revolution brewing in their ranks – for the better of you, them and the organization as a whole.

It all starts by getting real with your employees about what success looks like quantitatively and qualitatively when you, they, and the company’s values are aligned. Step up to the challenge of defining success that is measured by living your values and achieving material results.

Step up to the challenge of defining success that is measured by living your values and achieving material results.

Bring your people proactively into the process of change. Invite them to participate as integrated human beings who want to make a difference at work and at home, and really listen to their ideas. Give them room to be creative, design solutions that work for them, the customer and the company. Allow them to own aspects of the process, and be willing to reward them if they achieve good results even without using the techniques and approaches you would use. At all times, respect them as full participants in the process no matter what their rank or ability. Support their efforts to develop themselves personally by contributing to a company they are proud to work for.

Be personally willing to have difficult conversations in pursuit of alignment and demand that everyone managing people learn this important skill. Be consistent and open about the changes you’re making in your own actions so they believe that when you say you’re willing to accept change, you actually mean it. Your effort is over the moment you make your problems their fault, for you will be viewed as hypocritical and lacking integrity.

At all times, respect them as full participants in the process no matter what their rank or ability.

Demonstrate respect for these new values by allowing resource-driven decisions to be impacted by values-driven factors. Create communications networks that transmit values information and which operate in parallel with the hierarchical chains of command that distribute and manage resources. The CEO of Alcoa in the early 2000’s did a masterful job of this by making the values of employee safety and security top priority, above even market results that would impress Wall Street. Any employee could bypass traditional hierarchical management structures to report a violation or improvement idea. Employee engagement and profits went up dramatically, even as safety incidents plummeted.

Don’t be a lazy leader. Own the tension and challenge of managing values and resources. Demand of yourself, and others, that success be measured by both.

This concludes the series on The Values Revolution. Want to read it all? Check out the entire series HERE.



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Executive Coach, women's leadership advocate & founder of, Dana cracks the code on personal power to help women and men forge their leadership identity & mindset. Follow her at,,, and @DanaTheus on Twitter

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    There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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