When did making life better for those that get up every day at 6-ish A.M., complete the 3 s’s and get behind the wheel of their late model gas-saving econobox to go to work become a bad thing?
Why is spending time worrying about how to make the time spent at a job a good thing a bad thing?
Where is the cynicism coming from surrounding employee engagement (trust me – I’m seeing more if it every day)?
I say there is cynicism around engagement because just in the last week I’ve…
When normally intelligent people take such a strong negative stance on something I have to spend some time pondering.
And near as I can tell we’re using the same words but talking about different things (as is usual when a seemingly obvious truth is debated so strenuously.)
They are talking about “engagement” as a “program” – I am talking about engagement as “a way of life.”
Engagement when viewed through the lens of a “program” is probably as harmful a strategy as any when trying to connect employees to a company mission and get them to WANT to provide some of their discretionary time to the overall organizational success. At best these programs create a negative rebound and decrease the very thing they seek to increase.
Employees are smart. Employees can see through the fog of engagement programs and see if for what it is – manipulation.
No one feels good when they are manipulated. No one wants to be taken advantage of.
Badly designed “engagement” programs focused solely on driving more work for less cost isn’t engagement. Engagement “programs” that seek to manipulate and squeeze the last ounce of productivity out of employees and do it based on purely an ROI basis are not engagement programs.
They are schemes, tricks, cons. On that I agree with Mr. Tincup.
On the other hand, when I talk about engagement I am talking about a management team and an organization that actually cares about their employees. Companies who care look at engagement not through a lens of “cost savings” or “productivity gains.” They look at engagement as a way to make their employees lives’ better.
When you start to look at engagement as the process of connecting goals (company and individual) versus driving production it changes the meaning. It changes the approach.
Engagement that is driven from a place of “the right thing to do” versus “we have the right to do this” is true engagement.
The problem is that most companies still think of engagement as something they “do to” employees or in even worse cases, “do for” employees. And engagement isn’t something employees “give” employers.
Engagement is something “we” do together.
The company wants employees who are healthy, productive, happy, connected and appreciative. Employees want companies that are – wait for it – healthy, productive, connected and appreciative.
It really is that simple (IMHO.)
Dilbert is great at parodying the business world we live in and this past Sunday’s cartoon was no slouch. Taking almost every “engagement” technique ever devised and putting it into an 8 panel cartoon is my definition of genius. (I saw one guy on LinkedIn who said “finally my book gets parodied by Dilbert”… I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was poking fun at EVERY book on engagement – not just his… but we’ll let that ego stay inflated for a while.)
The cartoon in question:
Wally Is Playing the Game
This cartoon isn’t about engagement. This cartoon is about thinking engagement is a “plan,” a program, a check sheet or a 4-box (or 6/9 box if you’re really a high priced consultant.)
This cartoon is about the game of engagement where the company tries to bribe the employee. The employee waits for the bride and then ups the ante. It’s a dance.
It’s not engagement.
If you want engagement – the real kind – make it a dialogue. Both parties give, both parties get. It’s not about what you want or what the company wants. Engagement is about what is right for the both of us.
No one was ever engaged by being handed everything they ever wanted. No one is engaged when they get absolutely nothing they need.
There is a great quote from the movie the Descendants where George Clooney says: “give your kids enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.”
I think there is something in that from an engagement standpoint.
Employers – don’t give your employees so much they don’t have to do anything.
Employees – do something to make your employers want to do something.
Originally posted on on Incentive Intelligence