Does engagement really drive great work that gets results? Can someone be engaged and not a high performer?

Hi, I’ve been thinking about the topic of engagement and the thought around ‘does engagement really drive great work?’. Is it possible to have someone who is unengaged but who drives great results still? Or vice versa, someone who is engaged but who doesn’t deliver great work? I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples of the above. Thanks

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Hey @BCT Thanks for posting this question! I’m going to tag a few other members who might be able to offer you some feedback.

Hey @bmischel @CSJAY @brendajean @merina @katie @Caz @cashnwho do you have any feedback that you can offer? Thank you! :blush:

I don’t know that I have a data driven answer for you BCT, but I tend to think there’s a correlation but not a guarantee.

Which is to say, I could imagine a scenario where someone is unengaged, but gets their core job duties done. Are they necessarily a ‘great’ employee? Maybe not, but they are still getting the job done. However, you’re probably missing out on their full potential, and they may be looking for other work. Feels worth adding to this part that to some degree it feels like all of us are a bit unengaged after the last few years and are still getting things done, but am I as ‘great’ of an employee as before COVID? Probably not.

Similarly, I think you could have someone who’s super engaged at the org but not a great performer. They may love the company culture, feel good about pay, want to stay with you for at least the next few years, but aren’t getting their core job duties done. Could particularly happen in the case of an employee who really likes the org but doesn’t have the full skill set to do their job for whatever reason (poor hire, company/job outgrew them, etc). That said, if you aren’t able to do your job for a while, that usually doesn’t feel good, and tends to eventually lead to a drop in engagement.

Overall I’m less worried about these outliers on either end, and more paying attention to the big picture of engagement at our org and the engagement of key positions/staff. If there’s generally good engagement, then we likely will have generally good performance and retention.

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Thanks @Katie I really appreciate your response. I totally agree with the big picture point.

However big outliers to look out for in my opinion are the unengaged ones that drag others down. The ripple effect of negativity, it metastasising to others is considerable.

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In my experience often high performance and engagement are correlated. For example I’ve had high performing (revenue) offices that also had high engagement scores.

I’ve seen high performing teams with low engagement scores - I have found that you start to see turnover in those teams - they are high performing but unhappy so they leave.