Engagement Every Which Way

The business case for employee and client engagement is well documented: All people connected to a company (employees, clients AND supply partners, channel partners, and all human capital) have an impact on it. Identifying and implementing meaningful and relevant methods to connect all key constituents to your organization will result in long-term financial success. Towers Perrin reports that highly-engaged (what I call 360º engagement) firms experience an earnings-per-share growth rate of 28%, compared with an 11.2% decline for low-engagement firms. Beyond process improvement, 360º engagement creates new opportunities for companies to engage for profit.

I understand that for most companies, investing in 360º enterprise engagement beyond employees and clients is a “stretch” idea. But early adopters are reaping financial rewards. When truly engaged, all constituents share a deeper connection that includes both heart and brain (emotion and intellect). Organizations that have embraced this H3 formula (head, heart, hands) realize they need all their constituents onboard to maximize profits.

But talk is cheap, so here’s a personal story that says it best.

360º in action

A few short years ago, I was invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of the new state-of-the-art Guthrie Theatre (a theatre with a history for Minneapolis and regional artistic excellence). Why did I smile at the invitation, which was from a client in the financial services arena? Because it confirmed that this organization deeply understood the value of connecting the dots with its key constituents, beyond employees and clients.

Delighted and intrigued to be included, this became a priority on my crowded calendar. The event was specifically for all of their women-in-business constituents. While at the afternoon event, I met women from all constituencies—employees (including the company President and VP of Business Development & Marketing, the only men in the group), clients, supply partners, and channel partners.

Hillary FederI continue to receive invitations to equally intriguing events from this client. We have cooked together, shot clay pigeons, studied oenology, and most recently operated large construction equipment (bulldozers, excavators, etc.) on precision obstacle courses (the adult version of playing in a sandbox). Throughout all of these events, we have deepened our connections with participants, who have become a community within the bank’s community.

We’ve worked together. Most events create opportunities for us to work together or team up in friendly competitions, engaging us in the development of mini-strategies. Can you see how these events can become a breeding ground for new business ideas that could become potential sources of new business for this client?

We’ve talked together. All events create lots of conversation. I often find myself in a mixed group (employees, clients, supply partners, channel partners) meeting someone new and through the conversation realizing the link you are/could be to the other’s community and in some cases the other connections you have in common. This helps to shape yet another community.

We’ve listened to each other. Where this is talking, there is listening. Hearing each other’s concerns, opinions, and ideas, we’ve enriched our event environment in which the sum is truly greater than the whole of the parts.

Extreme SandboxFrom event to event, the group varies a bit, depending on participants’ calendars and the availability of event space. At the same time, there are a number of consistencies, including shared characteristics of participants: they are more enthusiastic about the success of their financial services firm (the host); they are highly interested in sharing ideas; they are proud of their association with the host company; and they contribute discretionary effort beyond what is “required” to maintain a relationship. There is no question that this organization is using their intellectual capital to set themselves apart in a crowded field.

Keys to successful enterprise engagement

Here are a few thoughts to get you thinking about how to activate Enterprise Engagement:

  • Develop a strategy that integrates all key constituents: employees, clients, supply partners, channel partners, etc.
  • Align your plan closely with the company brand, message and voice.
  • Model expected behaviors of participants from your organization, including senior managers and executives.
  • Develop and implement a system that ensures all activity, systems, and processes are consistently communicated to all constituents and followed in a sustainable manner.
  • Appoint a strategy owner (often known as Chief Engagement Officer), who has the distinct authority and support to drive a consistent, organization-wide effort that may require cultural and values shifts to succeed.

Reality check

If creating this path were easy, everyone would do it. Today organizations that design and implement an Enterprise Engagement strategy are pioneers. The rewards will include overall performance improvement through increased client retention, more committed employees and partners, and special treatment from supply partners, just to name a few. The process may be a bit bumpy at first, but will pay off down the road, as it has for my client.

“Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The first step is always the hardest.” —Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher

Enterprise engagement is the next step (beyond employee and client engagement) that affects bottom line results. We’ll help you implement down-to-earth strategies that are aligned with your company objectives, brand, message and voice. Call us.
Toll free: 800-742-6800     In Minneapolis/St. Paul 952-933-8365     www.askhillarys.com