Untangling Engagement and High Performance

Alec Levenson (CEO) and Alexis Fink (Intel)
August 2017

Employee engagement and performance are supposed to be closely related, and there is both empirical and conceptual support for a strong relationship. Yet too much attention has been paid to the engagement-performance relationship to the exclusion of other key contributors to performance, including job design and technology. Jobs that are designed with low discretion, autonomy and employee skills manage performance through control systems and close managerial oversight; in these roles there is relatively small scope for high engagement to improve performance. Jobs that are designed with high discretion, autonomy and employee skills, in contrast, have substantial scope for high engagement to improve performance. Moreover, the role of technology in improving performance in both types of role is quite different: it can help enhance engagement and performance in high discretion roles, and reduce engagement even as it enhances performance in low discretion roles.

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