Proudfoot's CEO Pamela Hackett on managing to engage

19 April 2021 4 min. read
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For 35 years, the CEO of Proudfoot Pamela Hackett has successfully advised, led and supported some of the world’s leading brands through business transformation. In her new book, Manage to Engage, she introduces practical tools for leaders at every level to better engage people in a post-pandemic world and to drive positive transformational change.

“Employee engagement should always be high on the agenda, but especially in the current environment,” she says shortly after launching her latest book. “Even before Covid-19, the world was experiencing a people crisis. Surveys across the globe reported an overwhelming majority of people weren’t engaged at work.”

This lack of engagement comes with a hefty price tag, with several studies pegging the cost at “hundreds of billions of dollars” each year. “And the losses aren’t only financial – they're emotional as well. Engagement is something you take home with you, so it stands to reason it extends into the broader community and society.”

Proudfoot's CEO Pamela Hackett on managing to engage

The good news according to Hackett, who has been with the operations consulting firm for three decades, is that improving engagement leads to improving productivity – “and this has tangible, measurable benefits at the economic and enterprise level. In my experience, engagement and productivity go hand-in-hand.”

How then can business leaders improve their engagement? In ‘Manage to Engage’ she outlines nine triggers to engagement success:

1. Fair trade
People need to feel they exchange a fair day’s work for fair reward. That they work in an authentic and equitable workplace.

2. Cause
Having a purpose drives us. Knowing that what you do counts towards the bigger picture, can be incredibly uplifting. When people feel a connection to their jobs and see how they can make that connection real, they are more willing to embrace bigger visions, ones that inspire them to take action and perform better.

3. Clean and meaningful infrastructure
Removing barriers, such as unnecessary structures in the workplace or legacy systems that delay decision-making, and making processes more efficient can make the workplace more productive and engaging (it removes frustration and negativity in the workplace).

4. Confidence
More than just self-confidence, this refers to confidence in leadership, peers and team members. Confidence builds trust – and engagement will follow.

5. Connection
Humans are social creatures. The better connected we are, the better the quality of our working life, the better we perform for our teams and our organisations perform.

6. Collaboration
Boundary-less collaboration speeds up problem-solving and learning. Deeper connections can mean more (and better) collaboration – and often, can lead to meaningful, powerful partnerships.

7. Community
Connections and collaborations foster a sense of community. We feel and perform better when we are part of something. Communities lift everyone up, together.

8. Capability
Continuous learning, the process of building and developing capability, is key to life satisfaction and work performance. Through coaching and routine check-ins, you can foster a culture of continuous improvement. This helps individuals, the team and the organisation advance.

9. Freedom
Those who have freer rein at work – to speak up, step up and shake things up – to do what needs to be done, tend to find work more satisfying. As you’d expect, this makes for a more positive work environment – and better engagement and productivity too.

Summed up as the 2Fs and 7Cs, these nine pillars “make up the scorecard for employee engagement. You’ll find they are all interconnected – so ‘winning’ at one can boost performance in other aspects too.”

Taking action

The future of business is unquestionably people – employee engagement is key to global economic and business success. In this Covid-19 world, an under-engaged workforce won’t bring us out of a crisis or help hit our numbers, let alone solve tomorrow’s problems. Engagement is the launchpad to transformation, change and continuous improvement. It is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”

“Leaders have the greatest impact on engagement,” says Hackett, and interestingly “addressing engagement doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are practical steps leaders can take at little or no cost to implement, yet are highly effective.”