Why Must Employee Engagement Have a Democratic Solution?
In August, Career Press publishes my new book The Workplace Engagement Solution. As many of my readers know, I have declared war on disengagement. According to Gallup, the trance of disengagement impacts 87% of the world’s workers. It hurts families and undermines our children’s future. The trance does more than destroying profit and customer loyalty, it is the number one driver behind growing underemployment.
It has become clear that full employee engagement is elusive due to two critical missing pieces:
Engagement Only Works as a Democratic Process.
It is futile to expect an awakening when we use the old hierarchical model of pushing leaders to become skilled at drawing engagement out of talent. Impolitely, they call that manipulation. Most need and crave personal involvement and individual transformation.
An awakened organization requires that everyone’s involvement. In a democracy, everyone is responsible for the end result. It is a mistake to assume that the leaders are more engaged than the rest of the population. Indeed, I have met line workers who are more engaged than some of the leaders in charge of engagement programs. We all have much to learn from anyone, no matter the level, who shines in the area of self-driven change and engagement with their work.
In a true democracy, everyone is responsible in the process of learning how to change and engage. The leaders and managers can provide the right conditions, but they are not ultimately responsible.
We have built an entire consulting industry on the dysfunctional model of blaming management and the culture for the breakdown of employee engagement. When everyone becomes responsible everyone also adopts the courage that is required to be awake, present, and engaged. That said, the CEO and the line workers become equals in the game of being engaged.
How do we move forward?
· We need to provide our people the skills to break out of the trance.
For years, academics, management consultants and human resource professionals have discussed the “broken employment contract.” But, as we lost the promises and assurances of the Industrial Revolution, organizations have typically failed in defining what it is that we need to do in order to thrive within the rapid, disruptive and transformative change we find ourselves in. By extension, much of today’s talent has obsolete work skills and no new life skills. Consequently, they become overwhelmed in simply trying to keep up with change. We need to help them close these gaps.
Consider this, today’s average college graduate will change careers four to six times. As we speed up the cycles of change, skills such as selling oneself, building networks, finding mentors, and becoming gifted active learners are critical in remaining valued within a modern talent pool.
If 13% of the world’s talent is engaged it is delusional and costly to expect that all of us are going to recruit enough people to build an engaged culture.
The new winning game is to not only build engaged talent but to do it in a way that produces confidence, goodwill, and pride.
For example, Trader Joe’s is one of our country’s great examples of an engaged culture. The average tenure of a cashier is eighteen years. Last weekend, I was asking one of them what it is like to work there. She was praising her team and added, “Every once in a while we get someone who doesn’t belong here. A few of us make sure they are gone quickly. We protect what we have.”
Democracy means the CEO is just as responsible in being engaged as the cashier. And, that person on the frontline? Let’s stop giving up on them. Let’s help them, support them and hold them responsible for self-change.
Skill Building recognizes that most workers are ill-equipped in dealing with rapidly increasing change. Give everyone those skills and we are not only building engaged cultures, we are changing the national labor pool.
Until we do that, engagement will be as elusive as Big Foot.
One of my recent readers put up a note that my points on an aspect of engagement were “spot-on” but rather than offering a solution, we offered a seminar in a hotel. Well, first of all, it’s a really good seminar. Secondly, I write one page at a time. This is a reflection of today’s reading habits. So, please keep reading the blogs and I commit to offering you a full picture. Or, get a copy of my upcoming book The Workplace Engagement Solution, or reach out!
Thank you to all of my readers for your generous feedback, sharing and support.
Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.
P: (310) 277-4850 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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