Feb 2, 2016 | Uncategorized

Last week, I co-facilitated a leadership retreat at Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook, California.  Part of the agenda was set aside to review the results of the company’s 2015 employee engagement survey.  Each manager took 20 minutes to share the highest and the lowest scores from their departments. They made commitments for how they would improve results in 2016, and suggestions for company-wide improvement efforts.

On the morning of Day 2, we asked, “What was your biggest takeaway from yesterday’s session?”  The President of the company responded, “What struck me the most was the comment by our Controller – that ‘we need to make our inside as good as our outside.’”


Bingo. Experienced executives can find ways to make financial results sing.  Strategic planning can uncover new markets, expanded channels, and opportunities to innovate.  Savvy marketing experts can keep brands fresh and top of mind.  It’s tempting to get caught up in efforts to boost profit, innovation, and brand recognition – things that make us look good on the outside – and ignore what’s happening on the inside.

Yet, Gallup research reports that 2015 employee engagement levels hang at a paltry 30%. Low employee engagement levels have been associated with employee turnover, low productivity, and absenteeism – all of which directly impact the bottom line. Leaders who remain manically focused on the outside may discover too late that they have a crumbling infrastructure – one that will not support their growth strategy.

As Forbes contributor Mark Crowley notes, “To defeat [low engagement], we must have the courage to reject many of our archaic methods, and to adopt ones known to have the greatest impact on inspiring human performance in the workplace.”  So, what has the greatest impact on employee engagement?  In a recent interview with Jim Harter, Gallup’s ‘engagement Jedi,’ Crowley found that, “the best companies Gallup works with consistently see a 7-to-9 percent improvement in a given year, and it’s because they intentionally align their performance management so that everything they do is on the same path.”

The kind of alignment that Gallup has found works best is the kind practiced by San Diego based WD-40 under the leadership of CEO Garry Ridge.  Consider the results from WD-40’s 2014 Employee Engagement survey.  With an average 93.7% engagement index, WD-40 has achieved best-in-class alignment by focusing on these 8 simple questions:

  1. I understand how my job contributes to achieving WD-40’s goals.
    Result:  99.7% of employees agreed.
  2. I know what results are expected of me.
    Result:  98.6% of employees agreed.
  3. I love to tell people that I work for WD-40 Company.
    Result:  97.6% of employees agreed.
  4. I am clear on the company’s goals.
    Result:  97.1% of employees agreed.
  5. I respect my supervisor.
    Result: 97.1% of employees agreed.
  6. I feel my opinions and values are a good fit with the WD-40 Company culture.
    Result:  96.8% of employees agreed.
  7. WD-40 encourages employees to continuously improve in their job, to “make it better.”
    Result: 96.3% of employees agreed.
  8. I am excited about WD-40 Company’s future direction.
    Result:  95.6% of employees agreed.

Leaders like WD-40’s CEO Garry Ridge understand the impact that employee engagement has on the bottom line. They lead the charge to continually invest in their employees who, in turn, focus on exceeding stakeholder expectations and deliver sustainable profit.

Question: Do you use employee engagement surveys in your organization?  If so, are they clearly aligned with your company’s performance management system?


Join me and Dr. Tony Baron April 27th in San Diego for The Re:Imagine Leadership Summit.  Discover how to create a culture that can respond swiftly, communicate freely, encourage experimentation, and organize as a network of people motivated by a shared purpose to meet the demand of the 21st century business enviornment. To learn more or register, go to:



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