When I got my first car in high school I was dedicated to making it look fantastic. A week didn’t go by where I didn’t find the time to wash and vacuum it. I took care to park it carefully to avoid dings from other car doors. For me, that car was an extension of myself and I was focused on what kind of impression my spotless car would make on all of my friends. 

What I neglected to do was to change the oil. Or even raise the hood once to check anything else that might need tending. For me, as a teenager, my focus was solely on the external, and the attention that shiny car would bring me. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way what ignoring a car’s engine can do....

Much like young drivers, businesses often get singularly focused on their external operations, relationships and networks. Delivering an impactful impression to prospects and then developing that connection over time with clients drives the organization’s strategy. This emphasis on the external is, of course, critical to being in business and should never be neglected. But neither should a concentration on those aspects of the business overshadow the importance of a company’s engine: its people.

The development and cultivation of a strong internal team is as important as ever. Without engaged employees who genuinely feel that they are a part of an organization’s big picture, today’s businesses will lack a dynamic company culture and the competitive advantage that brings.Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report* sheds some light on the impact employee engagement has on the bottom line.  First, they drew from their survey this conclusion:

  • 30% of American employees are engaged which means they work with passion and feel a connection to their organization helping to drive things forward
  • 50% of employees are not engaged and are essentially “checked out” putting in time, but no energy or passion
  • 20% of employees are actively disengaged and are not just unhappy, but are undermining the work of those who are engaged

The startling news really comes when Gallup estimates that ..”active (employee) disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year.” 

So what is the answer to the costly employee engagement problem? It is, unfortunately, not as simple as taking your company in for an oil change. But the good news is that many organizations have discovered and implemented an approach that is straightforward, logical, and effective: Focus on Strengths.  Rather than relying on the typical deficit-model that finds and fixes weaknesses in employees, adopting a strengths approach allows an employer to focus on an individual’s talents while also understanding that your most successful team members are those who are doing what they do best most of the time.

To find out how to identify the unique talent that is already within your organization and then leverage those strengths to build an even stronger organization, we invite you to attend our RezFest 2013 session, "Leveraging your Human Capital: The Strengths Approach," in which I will be presenting alongside Paul Herman, and Alisa Holmes. We look forward to seeing you Wednesday September 25th, at 10:30am!

*"State of the American Workplace."Gallup.Com - Daily News, Polls, Public Opinion on Politics, Economy, Wellbeing, and World. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.

***Update 10/3/13

Presentation from RezFest 2013: