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Moving the Needle on Employee Engagement

Moving the Needle on Employee Engagement

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Episode 47
  • Learn more about Gallup's Q12 Scorecard, and how you can use it and other Gallup resources to empower workplace change in this Q12 for Coaches podcast.

On this special edition of Called to Coach, we will spend time investigating the experiential, emotional and empirical aspects of each element of Gallup's Q12 engagement instrument and learning how it increases the power of our coaching as a primary driver of success. This series will be hosted by Dr. Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, who started at Gallup in 1990 as a manager/team leader and has had a variety of roles but has always led a team. One of his primary concerns for managers is one that he's experienced himself: How many well-intentioned team leaders are there who are working really hard but don't have any coaching or context about engagement and how do they lead to engagement through their strengths?

In this session, Mike talks about the Gallup Business Center and the Q12 scorecard. Below is a summary of the conversation. Full audio and video are posted above.


Q12 is a subject -- like strengths -- that you won't ever be "done" learning. And this is part of the invitation that we get to say "Yes" to. We can go on forever in the discovery aspect of it. Strengths and engagement put people in control of the destiny of their lives, including in the classroom and academic setting.

We're going to look at what I (Jim Collison) have done on college campuses -- the University of Maryland and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In these classrooms, they took CliftonStrengths and Q12, and we administered them this year in Lincoln in the middle of the semester (midterms), when stress was greater. We have also done it in the context of team formations, in technology-related fields.

There are many resources available for you on the Q12 site, and you can go back to the videos Mike and I (Jim) have made (in the Coaching Blog).

In the setup process for a survey, you can ask up to three open-ended verbatim questions. It's important, in deciding which of these questions you might use, to know in advance how you're going to use the answers. The volume of information you can get back through asking one or two of the right questions is profound.

The Dashboard menu has a Resources tab that will be helpful in setting up your first Q12 administration.

Gallup has a Q12 Database that contains data from many organizations, industries, and so on, and each team's results are measured against the database results (and given a mean percentile rank for each Q12 item). Knowing the percentiles can help managers start conversations regarding particular Q12 items.

The system generates a printable PDF report (scorecard) with the results for your team. How does a manager walk through this report? It's good to look at the themes of the scorecard. And looking at the foundation (the first three questions -- expectations, materials and equipment, and opportunity to do best) -- on this sample report -- we see scores that are lower than we'd like. So we need to ask, What does a "5" look like for our team? How do we then reverse engineer that so we can move it to a "5"? What are the barriers and how are we going to collectively move it forward and be part of the solution ourselves?

And then, if there is a high score on an item, how do we leverage that strong item to the point where we can use it to lift the other items? Start off with where are we strong?

Also, it's good for us to look at participation on the items -- sometimes people will not rate a particular item, and there's a story inside this that we shouldn't skip. We see this sometimes on the best friend or recognition items. Participation by itself is engagement. In a lot of clients, the primary issue is developing a culture of trust so they can arrive at a level of participation where they can trust the scores.

Finally, look at the % Engaged. These employees are involved, committed and enthusiastic. How can teams reach a "tipping point" with so many engaged employees that it's difficult for me (an employee on the team) to not be engaged myself?

When comparing one administration (of a survey) to another (for example, the first administration to the second), it's important to look at the GrandMean score -- did it go up, down? And by how much? Increases of 0.2 (depending on the team size) are meaningful, but any increase is good. Also, what happened with the individual items? Which ones went up, and which went down? And how are the first three items? The scorecard will show the change in each item. There's a "futuristic lean" around engagement -- a "5" today won't look like a "5" six month or a year from now.

Recognition (Q04) might be the most underused and easiest strategy to implement in order to work through all of engagement. Our State of the American Workplace report shows us how underused this item is. 50% of the workplace wakes up and can't say "Yes" (Strongly Agree) to this item.

Do we have to "squeeze it from the bottom up" like a tube of toothpaste, in every administration -- in other words, do I always focus on the bottom three items? Actually, we as managers need to ask the right questions and have the team direct the conversation, to bring buy-in from them. For example, if we're strong in best friend (Q10), how can we use that to leverage the expectations item (Q01)? So it's not prescriptive -- it's guided. So leading engagement buy-in rivals, if not exceeds, (a manager's) strategy (for discussing Q12 survey results).

It's possible for a team to "pencil whip" a survey -- that is, to fill in the survey with "5s" because they don't want to talk about the team's engagement issues. A manager can compare these scores to the team's output and find out what's really happening with the team and whether they're faking their engagement -- does that provide evidence that the team is engaged? So managers have to be careful not to make assumptions based on an initial reading of the report. How does the report match up to the performance data? What did the previous manager say about the team? What's been my experience with the team (if I've managed them) over the past three-plus years?

If a team truly is engaged (mostly/all 5s), we can ask, "How can we elevate our goals to take advantage of this 'engagement engine'?" In this way, we can leverage the tension between performance and engagement. We also want to think about what a "5" looks like six months from now.

Is a "5" always good? What we want is for every employee to rank the items as accurately and authentically as they can, relative to what it represents regarding their workplace needs and the performance context they're operating in -- and that's your best number. Workplaces need to challenge themselves, "What does a '5' look like and are we living up to it? And if we're not, our best number is where we're at now. And that will help us have the biggest gains in the next survey administration."

Additional resources:

Mike McDonald's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever and Focus.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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