Performing vs. Engaged Employees

By Balaji Krishnamurthy written about 4 years ago

Performance management has become an over-used buzzword in the corporate world. Most companies understand the value of setting clear performance goals for employees, evaluating the employees’ performance against those goals and providing the employees with feedback on what they have done well and where they might need improvement. We value highly performing employees. But do we value highly engaged employees? What is the difference?

Performing employees give to get.

Their focus is on the getting. They value what they get from the company. They get a good salary. They get to work in the town where they have social ties. They get good working conditions. They get good working hours. They value all that they get. They understand that to get all those things, they must give to the company. So, they do. They give to the company their best efforts towards the company’s goal. They do a good job so that they can get all those things they like. They are more likely to be lured by another employer from whom they can get more, than one to whom they can give more. Their focus is on the getting. Giving is the means by which they get. They give to get.

In contrast, engaged employees get to give.

Their focus is on the giving. The engaged employee is proud that they help people; they save lives; they teach others; they invent new things; they work on challenging projects; they lead a team; they make a difference. Their pleasure is in the giving. Getting is incidental. Yes, they have to pay bills; so, they like that they get a decent pay to live. But they work because they like what they do. Giving is the reason. They are more likely to be lured by another employer where they can give more than one from whom they can get more. Their focus is on the giving. They get to give.

Would you rather have a performing employee or an engaged employee?

No doubt, you probably would like an engaged and performing employee. Likewise, you will probably not tolerate for long a dis-engaged and non-performing employee. Those are the easy cases. How about the hard cases? Would you rather have a well-performing employee that is struggling to be engaged or a well-engaged employee that is struggling to perform? And, why is that? An engaged employee that is not performing is usually lacking some necessary skills. A performing employee that is not engaged is usually lacking necessary attitude. This brings to mind a favorite quip: If you have an employee that does not have the skill set needed to do the job, give them a year to learn the skill set; If you have an employee that does not have the attitude needed to do the job, give them the entire weekend.

Should we be evaluating our employees just on their performance, or also on their engagement? How do you evaluate people on their engagement? Does engagement change over time, just as performance does? How frequently should you give employees feedback on their engagement? These are all questions worthy of consideration. Ask yourself: Do you have performing employees or engaged employees?

 

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