Should Engagement Be Company Level or Team Level?

By Kevin on February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

A reader emailed me today with a very good engagement question. She is getting ready to deploy the short survey I include in Employee Engagement 2.0 and asked,

Should I ask them about the whole company, or our specific department? For example, “I am extremely satisfied working at Acme.” Or, “I am extremely satisfied working in the Acme Widget Division.”

There’s a short answer and a longer answer.

The short answer is that you should ask about the area that you have influence over. So, if you can only influence your division, you’d want to know the scores for your division. After all, if you asked about engagement working in the whole company and the scores came back high, maybe they don’t like your team much, but they do value the company. Or vice versa, maybe they are engaged by you and your team, but are struggling with some things in the entire company, you wouldn’t want to get “dinged” for things outside of your control.

The above answer is practical, but the slightly longer answer is that is really shouldn’t matter. Most of how we feel about work comes from our relationship with our boss. So regardless of how you ask that question, the scores should be similar. A great leader is representing the position of the company—their “first team” is the leadership “above them”. For example, let’s say bonuses are cut back because of hard times. A poor leader will take the easy path and complain about it with their team (e.g., “Sorry, but don’t shoot the messenger!”). This might make team members “like” their boss, but it doesn’t engage them in the company. A great leader gives the news and positions it in the best possible light (e,g. “This is very unfortunate and I, too, am disappointed. It also ensures we don’t have to do any layoffs and won’t see a sudden decline in our stock price…”). So even though there are things out of your control, how you position it is always in your control.

Check out Kevin Kruse’s new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, and discover how leaders turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. For insider tips and exclusive content, join his newsletter at

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