Engaging the Hearts and Minds of Employees and Volunteers

Business management guru Peter Drucker once observed that leaders must treat their employees like volunteers. Leading volunteers is the true test of your leadership because you do not have a paycheck to use as a leverage point. At anytime, volunteers can walk out the door. It is your ability to engage the hearts and minds of people–whether volunteers or paid employees–that will determine their commitment to the organization and the quality of their performance. In fact, research indicates that employee satisfaction is more important than customer satisfaction.

One study of 4,700 customers and employees of 63 businesses–conducted by professors at Manchester Business School–revealed that company growth was more likely to take place if employee satisfaction exceeded customer satisfaction. The study further noted the impact of employee attitudes on customer attitudes. As Management expert Tom Peters once said, “If your company is going to put customers first, then you must put employees more first.”

In his book, Engaging the Hearts and Minds of all Your Employees, Dr. Lee J. Colan notes that, “Engaged minds build employee performance, and engaged hearts ignite employees’ passion.” Engaged minds are the result of a blend of achievement, autonomy, and mastery. Engaged hearts stem from a mix of purpose, intimacy, and appreciation. Passionate performance is the end result of engaged minds and engaged hearts. Colan defines passionate performance as, “strong, sustained intellectual and emotional attachment to one’s work.” When you can engage your employees, or volunteers, on an intellectual and emotional level, their performance will increase.

Questions: What have you found to be the most effective ways to intellectually and emotionally engage employees or volunteers? When have you personally felt most engaged in an organization, church, or company?