The Link between Engagement and Performance

At CREW Carwash, the climate and weather impact the number of cars washed. Rain or snow followed by sunshine bodes for an increase in the numbers of washed cars. On sunny days, CREW president Billy Schaming says, “it’s a great day for a car wash!”

Even more importantly, CREW is a national leader in their industry because they focus on the impact of the inner climate, the emotional “weather”—what it feels like to be at work.

Leveraging the research measuring the link between engagement and performance, CREW invests in developing mindful leadership at every level that inspires a workplace climate of engagement.

Why? Because, as Billy says, “the spirit of the leader is the spirit of the team.” Leadership, especially from executive leaders and managers, creates a climate of engagement or dis-engagement, one way or the other.

Upbeat moods by leaders are contagious, inspiring teams to feel more optimistic about their abilities for autonomous decision making and goal achievement. Negative emotions are even more contagious. Overuse of the “bossy” style of leadership disrupts and highjacks the emotional climate of employee engagement.

For CREW, exceptional customer service is the holy grail of business growth. Disengaged, inattentive, or distracted workers are not tolerated because of the disastrous results of poor customer service.

According to Daniel Goleman, PhD, Harvard Business School, how people feel at work accounts for 20%–30% of business performance. “If climate drives business results, what drives climate? Roughly 50%–70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person: the leader. More than anything else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well.”

CREW employs a quarterly engagement survey from a company called Emplify. Until Emplify came along, data connecting the positive link between human emotional climate and performance was sparse.

Positive emotions at work turn out to be one of the strongest predictors of engagement and performance. Emplify has the data that proves executive leaders, managers, and influential employees who spread bad moods are bad for business.

Once a quarter, everyone rates their level of engagement through a mobile app designed by Emplify. Engagement Driver Scores quantify the presence or absence of workplace qualities that positively affect engagement.

A quarterly survey report alerted the executive leadership team to equip managers with tools for inspiring greater meaning at work. The engagement scores were measurably improved the next quarter, and so were the business results at those stores!

Our previous articles reinforced the need for productive conflict to transform friction, and mindful leadership to reduce confusion. This article reinforces the idea that leadership impacts the climate of engagement and performance, one way or the other.

Good moods drive business growth. On the other hand, without mindful leadership, “friction, confusion, and underperformance” bleed attention and energy from a shared vision and mission for businesses.

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