The Concrete Mix: Employee Engagement MMP#13


Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #13

A key principle from Made to Stick is to make your ideas sticky with a concrete approach. When you pour out abstractions or general ideas go the next step by transforming them into statements that are particular and individual.

The benefit of making employee engagement concrete is in helping employees understand and remember the key idea and to help them coordinate their efforts.

For example, spell out exactly what behaviors would demonstrate high levels of engagement. If you want employees to increase their discretionary effort let them know what that means. Some employees might believe it merely means more hours of work while others believe it means they decide what to do and when to do it.

Another example of concreteness is to provide specific examples of people who are demonstrating high levels of employee engagement. Or communicate specific engagement goals. For example when the 727 passenger plane was being designed it would have been easy to have set a goal of “build the best passenger plane in the world.” Instead, Boeing set a very concrete design goal:

The 727 must seat 131 passengers, fly nonstop from Miami to New York City, and land on runway 4-22 at La Guardia.


Get Perking:

  1. Transform any generalities or abstract notions of employee engagement into concrete with specific statements that make them memorable and airborne. For example, change we encourage more discretionary effort to “2 4 Tuesdays at 2.” This means we expect you to use 2 hours every Tuesday between 2 and 4 o’clock to work on projects that you determine will make a contribution to the organization, your department, and yourself! Write a concrete, specific, and vivid statement that articulates employee engagement for yourself or your workplace.

Photo Credit: Virginia G – I need more concrete: 

Photo Credit: Sunny Runway – From Flickr Creative Commons – by

2 thoughts on “The Concrete Mix: Employee Engagement MMP#13”

  1. What’s the relation of the pictures to your article? Are you working with some men in a construction site?

    Seriously, your thoughts here are great. Do you think the reward system will still make an employee feel more needed and appreciated? Some employees lose their enthusiasm towards work once they feel that they’re underappreciated, or overworked yet underpaid. Do you think a nice and comfortable workplace will affect any worker?

  2. Hey, it is all about the concrete!
    I think rewards are complex. In some ways that is an external contributor to engagement yet ultimately much of the engagement, in my view, needs to come from the work itself and our connections to the people we work with.
    Nice and comfortable workplaces can be nice but I have witnessed very high levels of engagement in a limestone quarry and processing facility in Northern Manitoba were it is -30 degrees celcius and limestone dust permeates the air.
    Thank you for your comments.

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