The one where I get a few things off my chest

Engagement needs the basics doing well as well as the new/cool/faddy/fashionable

Engagement is not a quick ‘reach around’ to make people feel happy at work

A line manager is the most able person to engage with an individual

Engagement requires being constructive not just positive

Engagement requires commitment not just process

If your engagement problem is all about ‘top management’ then you haven’t done enough with the rest of the organisation

If your engagement problem is all about your HR team then you must be avoiding mirrors

and most of all

Engagement is not easy, anyone who says it is (in 140 characters or more) has never tried to do it and is just talking about it



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4 responses to “The one where I get a few things off my chest

  1. Great article Rob. Am tempted to write a similar one for internal comms.

    There’s been a fair bit published recently about line managers and how they aren’t the middle-man and need to feel valued themselves, which I totally agree with. However in my experience how employees feel correlates to their working environment, and their managers have a HUGE part to play in that. Particularly if they are frontline, shift workers, ‘unconnected’ employees. So I agree that they are the most able, and also the most accessible day-to-day to workers.

    True also that engagement affects everyone, not just HR (or Comms). It needs to be a collaborative effort and in order to be truly effective, the constructive comments you mentioned above need to be welcomed, listened to and most importantly acted upon. You can have the best comments in the world filtering up from employes and down from leaders, but if they just disappear in an empty space, they are hollow and meaningless.


  2. I can only agree with you.

    It seems to have become a way for consultancies to sell surveys, the latest thing, a book with all the answers! and for someone to have a project, and a way for beans to be counted. Something that the people you were talking about yesterday can get done to tick their boxes.

    Trying to get people engaged when you aren’t looking at the whole system is a bit like managing absence with the Bradford Factor. You get some results – you can control certain behaviours by fear. You can get people energised by some engagement activities. But do you know why people feel sick at the thought of coming into work? Do you understand what barriers exist between people that get in the way of them having constructive conversations?

    Engagement is an outcome of a constructive culture. The energy and effort directed into understanding and managing culture will produce more sustainable results, more potential, more everything desirable, but it has to belong to everyone, it’s not an annual survey, and it’s not something someone else does.

  3. Ditto ditto ditto. It absolutely isn’t easy. And first of all we need to have a deep understanding of the complexities of ‘engagement’. By chance this morning I came across a really superb report published by the CIPD recently. It explains some recent research which categorised two types of engagement: emotional engagement and transactional engagement. The former is more likely to lead to people staying longer with the organisation and higher levels of performance. However, people get driven to the latter by work overload. (This is a crude summary). Here’s the link
    It led me to think that we often pursue engagement very separately to looking at the problems of work intensification.
    My other beef is that a lot of the talk about engagement seems to have a hidden assumption that people start off as ‘disengaged’, and that we (HR, line managers, top team etc), need to ‘engage’ them. I think it is very often the other way round. New employees enter a workplace full of expectation and ‘fresh start’ hopes. Then things happen that dent their enthusiasm and engagement. So rather than treat people as lamps that need to be switched on, how about we think about how we create workplaces that allow people to keep their innate good intentions and commitment?

    Sorry, long comment. I’m passionate about this.

  4. Pingback: The one with the well intentioned gut punch | Masters or Bust

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