This sounds elementary, like Business 101, that if a metric is important we should set a goal. Yet I’ve polled thousands of managers and HR executives and found this isn’t the case. When making conference presentations on this topic, I’ve said, “Please raise your hand if your company establishes engagement survey goals. ‘Doing better than last time’ or ‘beat the benchmark’ doesn’t count. Your company has to actually establish an engagement survey goal.”

Fewer than 10 percent raised their hands. My speculation is that CEOs are pleased to be average on this metric because (1) they don’t understand its power, and (2) they erroneously believe real solutions cost money for pay, benefits, and the like, ...

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