Column Management Training Workforce

Line of Site Clarity Drives Engagement

Klaus M. Blache | April 1, 2021

Engaged employees have low absenteeism, contribute improvement ideas, and achieve better business results.

Line-of-sight (LoS) has been called goal cascading and business-plan deployment.

Most companies post missions and goals on their walls, but how many employees below top leadership understand and can explain them, including what they mean and how to achieve them?

If your employees are not clear on what they can/should do to support those goals in daily decisions and activities, then you’re missing a big opportunity. Engaged employees want to improve company performance. It’s a long-standing fact that highly engaged people have less absenteeism, contribute more improvement ideas, are more productive, and achieve better business outcomes. What team-member LoS to critical objectives/metrics provides is clarity for each individual as to their responsibilities and how they contribute to the operational big picture. Each individual should be able to see how their daily purpose and goals connect to and support their organization’s goals.

In plant floor visits, I ask employees what the plant goals are, what the group goals are, what they do. In some places the answers are similar to, “I don’t know the plant goals, the group goal is to make daily production numbers, and I just make sure that my two parts are put on in time.”

Sometimes I’ll hear, “The plant goal is zero accidents and quality defects, the group goal is not to pass on quality defects, and I am part of a workforce that builds the best cars in North America.” The latter group can usually go into great detail about why their role matters, what they’ve recently done as an improvement effort, and speak with pride.

According to Gallup:

“The percentage of ‘engaged’ workers in the U.S.—those involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace—is now 34%, tying its highest level since Gallup began reporting the national figure in 2000.” In March 2016, Gallup also reported that 34% of U.S. employees were engaged, along with 16.5% who were “actively disengaged”—a ratio of two engaged workers for every disengaged person.

The percentage who are “actively disengaged”—workers who have miserable work experiences—is now at its lowest level (13%), making the current ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees 2.6-to-1; the highest ever in Gallup tracking.

The remaining 53% of workers are in the “not engaged” category. They may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace. They will usually show up to work and do the minimum required but will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.

On average (over Gallup’s 18 years of tracking), 30% of employees have been engaged at work and 17% of U.S. workers have been actively disengaged.

The 53% “not engaged” are the people who should be targeted for a LoS initiative. It has the potential to improve culture, accelerate implementation of strategies, reduce absenteeism and employee turnover, and increase profit. If implemented correctly, you should not have to tell employees how they contribute to their role. They should be telling you. Employee engagement will determine the new level of organizational success. EP

Based in Knoxville, Dr. Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at kblache@utk.edu.

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Klaus M. Blache

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