Kevin Murphy: Engage to Win

Authentic engagement should be a company's highest priority when undergoing a major transformation.


Kevin Murphy: Engage to Win

A recent Bain study shows that employee engagement is the most important factor in a successful transformation. Kevin Murphy, a partner with Bain's Results Delivery practice, explains why effective engagement goes well beyond communicating and informing.

Read the transcript below.

KEVIN MURPHY: Bain recently completed a study that had results I think some people will find surprising. The study talked to more than 400 executives who were involved with major transformational change in their organizations. And we looked specifically at those who were particularly successful, who either hit or exceeded what they set out to achieve.

And we wanted to know what made them different from everybody else. And so we looked at their drivers. And the number one driver for those individuals was engaging their organizations.

It's not just number one, it was dramatically ahead of everything—more than 50% ahead of the next factor. That factor was the clarity of strategic direction.

Still very important, and clearly, you've got to have the right strategy that you're engaging the organization in to be successful. But engagement is making a bigger and bigger difference. And that's because in today's environments where there's greater volatility, and more agility, and so many things are changing, getting your people on board becomes even more critical.

When we talk about engagement, there's two "gotchas" that you need to be aware of. The first is that communication is not engagement. Many people will claim they have engaged because they've gone out and communicated and let people know, informed them, made them aware of what's happening.

When we talk about engagement, three things are needed. Yes, we have to inform and make sure people are fully informed. But we also need to create connections across people. And we need to make sure that people feel heard in the process. When those three things are present, we see people's levels of commitment three times as high.

The second "gotcha" is timing. Again, with everything that's going on, there's often a, "Yes I believe engagement is important, but I'm gonna push it out, you know, when we have time to do it." Huge difference for people who began the engagement process at the same time they began this strategy work.

In those cases, what we saw was they were twice as likely to be successful and deliver. They were more than 2 1/2 times as likely to sustain the value in the longer term. And they were three times less likely to have adverse attrition happen in the organization. So engagement is critical if you are involved [in] or leading a major transformational program. The messages for you are engage, engage early, and engage completely.

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Engage to Win

How a strategy is executed is critical to its success.



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