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Employee Engagement is not working even though it is about working

Engage: Go small, be good.

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Large scale programs, endless competencies, and 22 drivers of engagement are not the solution to our dis-ease with work and our chronic disengagement. Employees and organizations are weary of being cajoled and counseled to be great. We need to restore the sanity at work, the caring for what we do, and the connection we have with one another as we do good work.

Even with the most optimistic assessments we have seen minimal improvement in employee engagement over the past 10 years.  Everybody is talking about employee engagement but what are they really doing about it. Leadership is befuddled when they receive endless results from the 120 item bi-annual survey. Managers, already busy with 15 other priorities, are being tasked with engagement as they go from doing more with less to doing everything with nothing. Survey consultancies construct fancy PowerPoint presentations with fifty recommendations the organization tries to sink their teeth into while employees are wondering, “where’s the beef?”

Seventy to eighty percent of our projects in organizations fail to deliver the results we hoped for. We are taxing our resources, stressing our people, and our engagement initiatives are sowing the seeds of disengagement.

There is a better way to engage : Go Small, Be Good

Here is my current Employee Engagement Equation:

Employee engagement = Small Steps + Good work.

Small is the new significant while good is the new great.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.  ~ E. F. Schumacher

It is counter intuitive but big results in employee engagement will come from being small, simple, strong, sustainable, and significant.  Engagement is not an attitude or a survey score it is the small actions and behaviors we exhibit each day at work. The Dalai Lama stated, if you think small is not significant try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito.

Employee engagement must be integrated into the fabric of work rather than heaped on as an extra. Great work and great workplaces are a cute conceptual  ideal but I prefer the sustainable heartiness of good work done daily. Most of the rare great performance and great work that I know came from sustained effort over long periods of time. We need to do the best we can, with what we’ve got, wherever we are. As John Wooden, the fantastic UCLA basketball coach said, “don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Good is not the enemy of great, good is the only pathway there is when great occasionally occurs. Although some believe that our reach should exceed our grasp I think we should have a good grasp of our work and hang on to it everyday. Drop the concept of engagement and embrace the verb of engage.

David Zinger Pyramid of Employe Engagement Model Course Page

David Zinger is fully engaged in creating a 12 module course on the tactical and practical actions of employee engagement based on his eclectic pyramid of engagement. This will will be an excellent independent study course, speech, workshop, or training session. If you are interested in learning more about the course that will be ready early in 2014, email David today at david@davidzinger.com.

Comments

  1. Given the tsunami of bullshit that has been associated with the concept of “employee engagement” over the last decade, your comments represent the sanest thing I have seen written on the subject. But small isn’t intrinsically beautiful–these actions need to be credible and visible as well.

  2. Thanks Mike. I appreciate you credible and visible necessities. David

  3. Wilson Zorn says:

    Thanks for the sanity! Really that’s all I have to say, just thanks; there’s so much absurdity on this topic it’s unbelievable. I think what’s worst is that the surveys I’ve seen don’t measure engagement at all, or at least the questions have little to do with measuring my engagement, anyway. So the whole hub-bub proceeds from what I see as generally flawed measures from the get-go.

  4. Appreciate the sanity endorsement. Engagement can create all kinds of insanity at times.

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