The APQC Blog

The “Secret Sauce” for Extraordinary Employee Performance

The “Secret Sauce” for Extraordinary Employee Performance

If there was one thing that you could do today to drive extraordinary performance from your team—would you do it? In this email interview with APQC, Amy Leschke-Kahle—VP of Performance Acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, an ADP Company—talks about the role of employee engagement in accelerating performance and reveals the most powerful thing a team leader can do to engage employees.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement has become one of those terms that we toss around and don’t really stop and clearly define what we mean. Therefore, it’s meaning tends to get watered down. And without clarity it’s near impossible to figure out how to get more of it. I find the clearest definition of employee engagement is that it is the emotional precursors to extraordinary performance.

Why does employee engagement matter?

If you clearly define engagement as I have above, then of course it matters. Organizational differentiators have significantly changed over the last decade. Technology and process efficiency are table stakes for any business. And even if you discover the most amazing technology or design the best new product, the tools your competitors need to “me too” are so accessible that your secret sauce doesn’t stay secret for very long. Therefore the only real unique asset that any organization has is it’s people. Knowing that engagement is the accelerator to extraordinary performance and that engagement is all about people and the teams they are on really ups the ante on how important engagement really is.

What drives employee engagement?

The number one ritual that moves the needle on engagement is attention from your team leader. Period. The research is clear and even more importantly the experiences from real organizations are clear. Attention, attention, attention. It has to be radically frequent but it can also be light touch. We know from our research and our clients that team members who receive weekly light-touch attention from team leaders are 2 ½ to 3 ½  times more likely to be fully engaged.

Many of our readers are leaders/people managers. What is something that they could do today to promote engagement among the employees they lead/manage?

The simplest and most powerful thing any team leader can do, no matter what level they are or what kind of organization they are in, is to pay frequent attention to their team members in the context of the team members’ day-to-day work. Simply ask them, at least once a week, “what are your priorities this week and how can I help?” It’s common sense, you just need to make it common practice!


Learn more about accelerating team and business performance through employee engagement. Register for APQC’s February Human Capital Management webinar:

Employee Engagement: The "Right" Moves for Achieving Your Business Outcomes

Amy Leschke-Kahle will reveal the 4 "rights" of engagement based on 25 years of research, including:

  • The right questions to ask
  • The right time to ask them
  • The right people to receive your engagement data
  • The right actions to drive engagement

Whether your organization is interested in achieving a more refined measure of engagement or looking to accelerate performance team-by-team, you’ll want to attend this event to discover insights about how actionable and reliable data can deliver business results.