The Three Laws of Highly Engaged Organizations

Ever since the Gallup Organization started tracking workplace employee engagement in 2000, employers have taken a multitude of actions to better understand and correct the causes of low employee engagement.

Twenty-one years after The Gallup Organization began tracking employee engagement it’s still apparent that many employers have not fully identified and addressed all the causes that precipitate low employee engagement. 

It’s not as if organizations do not realize the overwhelming costs of having a disengaged workforce… most organizations have identified raising employee engagement as an enterprise-wide mission critical objective.  Yet the problem stubbornly remains.

Some individual managers have highly engaged people while other managers seem to struggle in this area.

This has been a key area of interest for me ever since I became a manager in 1976.  Here are three laws at play that seem to make a huge difference in whether or not an individual or an entire team is engaged (or not).

Law #1:  Fit People to The Specific Role to be Filled

Hiring the wrong people is easy.  Do a cursory check of their resume or application followed by a quick interview and hire them if you like them.  (Spoiler alert: you’ll come to regret most of these types of hires).

Hiring the right people is very hard. Before you begin to look, you must clearly identify what specifically you are looking for, and that depends on the role you want to fill.  Roles must be clearly defined as to the precise knowledge, technical and soft skills, and talents required for someone to perform in the role at an optimal level..

Most people who fail in a role don’t fail for an inability to perform the work, they fail because they are a poor fit for the culture or team in which they work.

The most engaged organizations and their leaders have a rigorous hiring process that includes most or all of these areas of evaluation:

When you hire the right people for each of your roles, they will onboard faster and experience success more rapidly.  In other words, when the role seems to fit perfectly, people enjoy coming to work and doing what they do.  As my grandfather would often say, “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” 

Law #2:  Treat Employees as if They Were Volunteers

What makes someone show up week after week to work long hard hours without financial compensation, all the while having a big smile on their face? 

What these highly engaged volunteers do is missional.  They are fully committed to the higher purpose of what they are doing that they pour their heart and soul into serving others, serving side-by-side with like-minded similarly engaged people.

When you study the  leaders of these energized organizations you observe that leader initiate conversations with each volunteer, letting him or her know how very much they are appreciated and valued for their service.  They take the time to get to know the volunteer to the degree each person was comfortable.  As a result, volunteers felt listened to and respected… and were engaged.

When leaders create the environment in which employees are treated like volunteers instead of just an employee, the entire dynamic changes.  There is a sense of personal value and worth along with camaraderie of shared mission and higher purpose.

Law #3:  Treat All Customers as if You Owned the Business

After 24 years in the corporate world, I decided to start my own best-practices talent development business in 1998.  I was anxious to put to work all the lessons I had learned from many of the terrific leaders and mentors for whom I worked. 

I also realized very quickly that without customers… and steady assignments – our fledgling enterprise would not survive.

Because it was a business with my name on it, and my reputation was on the line, every customer deserved our undivided attention and absolute best work.  My co-founder and I believed that we had a fiduciary responsibility to clients to put their best interests ahead of our own.   

That’s when it dawned on me just how essential this principle of ownership was in having highly engaged teams of employees.  When you own the customer relationship, you leave nothing to chance. You’re out to exceed all expectations.  What if employees viewed the customer they served as like the employees owned the business!

The recipients of our work product are our customers.  In the corporate world, that means Seth in accounting who needs timely and accurate reports is a customer. So is Jeannie in Customer Care who asked for help with a key account.  Ditto Barrett the VP of ops and Ting-Wu the IT lead. 

When everyone treats internal customers like they owned the business, there’s no place for dis- and un-engaged employees.

Bottom Line

If you hire the dight people based on how perfectly they fit the role, treat them like a volunteer, and treat everyone who receives your work product as the customer of the enterprise you own, you’ll have an exemplary, high-performing highly engaged team that just crushes it! 

This article is based on principles taught in the Hiring and Performance Management modules of Boyer Management Group’s acclaimed leadership development program Leading Through People™.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™. This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team’s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™ (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™

I help leaders and aspiring leaders improve their performance and acumen, and sales and marketing professionals to become more productive and effective. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. We develop sales teams with our highly regarded B2B Sales Essentials™ and B2C Sales Essentials™ tailored sales curriculum. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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