Kevin Kruse is one of the most prominent authorities on employee engagement across the USA and, of course, social media, and so I was honoured and delighted when he agreed to an interview.
Kevin has written no less than 4 books which explore employee engagement from different angles. His work demonstrates his vast and practical “hands on” experience in this field. His books are fun, include compelling data, proven advice, practices and strategies, which could only be authentically offered so emphatically by one who has walked the talk.
Although a fan of Kevin and his work for some time, I only recently connected through social media. What struck me was that here was someone who truly understood engagement and extended it in the way he connected online. The popularity of and level of engagement, even within his Linkedin Group, is heads above most on Linkedin, as a result of his ability to make members feel valued and included. As the first of our themed series centres on “Developing Managerial Effectiveness”, I knew Kevin’s presence and insight were going to be deeply valuable. So here goes:
This month our theme is “Developing Managerial Effectiveness” When appointing managers what key skills should a leader be looking for in potential recruits?
We need to be looking at one’s potential as a coach when we consider them for a management position. Unfortunately, it’s usually functional expertise that is evaluated which is completely separate from the ability to be a leader. A classic case is when a great sales person is promoted to sales management. They might be great at all the aspects of closing a deal, but might not be good at–or even enjoy–the administrative and coaching functions of sales manager.
What steps should a leader take to get managers to begin the process of engaging people?
Most of engagement–how we feel about work–comes from our relationship with our immediate supervisor. So the role of front-line managers is key to any organization. We need to make sure managers know that engagement is a priority, and ideally their own performance and compensation will be tied to it. Of course, they also need the tools and training to be effective in this area, but it starts with letting them know that in additional to traditional metrics of success in their role, they will be evaluated on engagement.
What’s the best way to measure how well people are engaged?
Ideally, you measure engagement on a team, and through the entire organization with an employee engagement survey. Well-designed surveys will measure both the current level of engagement, and also the drivers of engagement. The key step in the process is to make sure you are sharing out the results with each team leader, and their direct reports. Think of the engagement survey as a score card. Even highly engaged teams can look at what areas they are scoring lowest in, and brainstorm ways to boost the score.
Over the years of creating great businesses and helping others to do the same; what single experience gave you the most satisfaction?
I’ve been pretty fortunate over the last couple of decades and have gotten design awards, Inc 500 awards for fast growth, and even had a book land on the New York Times bestseller list. But they only thing I’ve felt a little bit proud of, over the last 25 years of my career, was when my company won a Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania award. This was given by an outside organization that did an anonymous of a survey of employees, so it really validated the hard work we were doing to try to create a great workplace culture.
You’ve published four great books now which I think are essential reading for all leaders and managers, the last one in 2013: What is next for you?
Everything I’m doing is just an attempt to spread the gospel about Wholehearted Leadership and the value of employee engagement. This year I plan to start using videos more to share key things I’ve learned over the years and I’m working on my next book which will be a business fable. I use to swear that I’d never write a fable–I’m not a fan of most that are out there–but I definitely think the fable format reaches a much broader audience than you can with traditional business narratives.
How can our readers derive the most benefit out of the work you do?
I would encourage all of your readers to check out my Wholehearted Leadership group on LinkedIn which now has over 21,000 members who have formed a really vibrant community discussing topics of leadership. For those who are interested in learning more about what I’m working on, the best thing to do is to sign up for my newsletter at kevinkruse.com
Readers, you can get your own personal engagement profile from Kevin’s website. I scored 4.67! If you take the quiz, it would be great if you left a comment or even shared your score!