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Engagement in Action

While I haven’t yet seen any major business publications cover the emerging area of engagement, the traditional trade media is on it.

Recent articles in publications as diverse as the HR Executive (here and here), Corporate Meetings and Incentives, Training, and the American Management Association have featured articles on various aspects of engagement. Even more telling are instances like what happened to me recently.

The Bermuda Experience

engagement triangleI was traveling to Bermuda to give a presentation on engagement for a customer council held by Performance-Enhancement Incentives, a Concord, MA, full-service incentive company founded by incentive travel veteran Colin Higgins in 1995. Sitting next to me on the flight was a woman hard at work on a presentation. I couldn’t help but see the words “People” and “Alignment” and “Engagement” and sensed a coincidence brewing.

Breaking my rule not to disturb people at work when flying, I asked her, with apologies, what kind of project she was working on. It turns out that she’s in charge of the engagement strategies for the financial services division of a top world-wide accounting firm. While it would break even a greater cardinal rule of confidentiality to name her or her company, she said several things that struck me that I can share.

First, what surprised me was her use of the same terminology used by the Enterprise Engagement in its curriculum, i.e., engagement, people, alignment, performance, etc., even though she was not aware of the Enterprise Engagement or of any literature on the field. She of course was surprised to learn there was a formal field devoted to her endeavor and asked to learn more.

Secondly, she used the same word all other people I have spoken with on this subject use to describe their organization’s efforts: a journey. There are no authoritative references, she said, to guide the way.  (Of course, I did inform her of the EEA, our curriculum, and she showed enough interest to offer me her card at the end of the flight without my asking for it in order to get more information.)

Finally, and most important, what struck me was one of her two main areas of pain:  employee turnover and tactical implementation. The company employs bright young talent who get great experience, training, and certification, and then the world is their oyster, even in this recession with over 14 million unemployed. Her company seeks new ways to engage these upwardly mobile talented individuals. On the tactical side, it was clear that the job of integrating technology, leadership training, communications, rewards and recognition, and measurement, etc. is no easy feat for a large company with multiple departments.

If this exchange were not coincidence enough, three of the executives at the intimate meeting organized by PEI of customers and prospects, told the group that their organizations also have joined the journey. The only example I have the right to name in public were hosts of the event, the Fairmont Southampton, whose sales manager and team-members enthusiastically explained to the group their organization’s journey on engagement.

This came as no surprise to those of us participating in the PEI event, because the entire experience was flawless and uplifting, starting with the greeting at the airport and the front desk, and continuing throughout the exquisite service and dining, not to mention the attentive service of PEI principals Colin Higgins, Carolyn Hoffman, and the VP of Sales Randy Officer. Upon checking out, I noticed there was a Guest Registry on a desk adjacent to check-out. I took a moment to read through it. Here’s a sample of comments:

“Exquisite”

“Amazing”

“Our 46th visit and better than ever”

“We’ll be back.”

And more and more. I’d have to say that my visit was on the same par, even though I was on business.

Imagine that all of those people told probably a half-dozen friends the same thing, not to mention my own positive reviews that will be broadcast to tens of thousands of our readers in our e-newsletters.

Thanks to my anonymous seat-mate who inspired me with her company’s dedication to Engagement; to the Fairmont and sales manager Christine Sullivan for demonstrating engagement in action, and to Colin and Carolyn for the opportunity to experience a most “engaging” weekend while sharing information on engagement with people in business.

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