In my experience…ROE is sleeper metric #2
Sleeper metrics are those that measure value-building capabilities and have the potential to significantly impact the ability of the organization to maximize return. Generally, they’re related to internally-facing activity, not widely disclosed to external stakeholders. Sleeper metric #1 is Return on Alignment (ROA).
Leading people in one way or another is something I have the good fortune of doing frequently, whether it be in business, on a board, as a youth sports coach, an adjunct faculty member or a speaker. I learn something each time. These learnings fall into one of two categories. First, content or topic-based learning, where I learn more about the ‘what’. Second, earning the attention and interest of the audience in order to achieve the desired result, where I learn more about the ‘who’ and ‘how’. For me the second one is harder to perfect because audiences are active, judgmental entities, whereas content and topics are passive.
My definition of ‘audience’ in this context is broad. It could be a team of work colleagues, a board, a college / high school / youth sports team or a classroom of students (adults or youth). Each of these are different and dynamic. Successfully addressing, motivating and bringing people together for a common purpose, whether it’s ongoing or a one-time event, is a moving target. Yet, if this engagement of people doesn’t happen, progress is hindered and value isn’t optimized.
In my experience, Return on Engagement (ROE) is sleeper metric #2.
Return on Engagement
Many times, engagement is the difference between success or failure, winning or losing. It’s just as important for the players on my daughter’s soccer team as it is for the employees of my company. When people are engaged the result includes teamwork, collaboration, effort, creativity, interest, involvement and smiling. Lack of engagement manifests as visible or verbal disinterest, boredom, lack of effort, lack of focus, inability to articulate goals and discontent.
My observation is that people who are engaged are happier, more successful, willing to take risks, excited and easier to work with. Assuming this is all true, the question is, “How do you engage people and keep them engaged?” As with anything you need to measure it and actively manage it. Similar to my experience with alignment, I was unable to find an industry standard for measuring engagement and therefore created an assessment to do just that for my clients.
What I’ve discovered is that high engagement increases the success of the individual, the team and the organization across the board. The benefit of engagement to the individual can be expressed as a modified version of the sports adage “Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good”. While engagement doesn’t do much with the ‘look good’ piece, it helps them feel valued, which impacts how they perform, resulting in "Look Good, Feel Valued, Perform Well". The benefit to the leader of measuring and managing engagement is that they get previously unrecognized insight into factors driving the engagement and retention of their people. Knowing these factors allows them the adjust communication, strategy and tactics to improve engagement.
Whether talking about a team of business professionals or a team of athletes, engagement is critical and many times overlooked or not considered as a tool for leaders to use to achieve the benefits to their team or organization of retention, revenue protection and recruiting. Realizing a high return on engagement is possible if you acknowledge it and actively manage it.
Special thanks to Derinda Ehrlich, in whose class I was fortunate enough to be and her ability to engage us was masterful, and to Ozzie White who showed me that engagement applies to all kinds of teams, including collegiate sports.