Engagement: How Full is Your Glass?

Several weeks ago, the senior leadership team of one of my clients (a mid-sized Canadian company) gathered to hear the results of a recently administered organization-wide survey. The consultants responsible for the survey were beside themselves: rarely have they seen a 96% response rate and even more unusual were the positive results, including a whopping 86% rate of engagement. The consultants were thrilled to deliver this good news story.

To their surprise, they encountered long, unsatisfied faces around the management table.

As it turns out, the Company’s president quickly translated the percentages of `disengaged’ into specific numbers of bodies and was disappointed that so many people (the 14%) were not as strongly aligned with the company as he would have hoped. To him, the 86% were just a starting point. It was the other 14% who were of concern and interest.

The company is now working on action plans that will help engage that smaller group in more meaningful ways.

If you were to receive such results in your own organization, how would you react? Which of the following is closest to your likely response (or possibly real-life past response)?

  1. Wow – 86% is great, we’re fabulous!
  2. Let’s find out what are typical results within our own industry and as long as we’re in the top 75% within that group, were doing a darn good job!
  3. I’m concerned about those missing 14% – let’s understand that better and move immediately to lower those numbers
  4. People will always complain and you’ll always have a percentage for whom you’ll never get it right, so there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s move on!
  5. You’ve gotta look at the half-full part of the glass, and 86% is pretty full. Let’s not focus on the negative and stay positive!

Upon reflection, is your choice of response the best one in the long run? Is it an honest response or just a way to make your own life easy? What difference would it make if you chose to respond like my client did (answer no. 3)?


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