Is Employee Engagement Broken?

 

I’m an outsider with a question: There are a lot of people unhappy at work and there are a lot of businesses unhappy that their people are unhappy and there are other businesses who come in to make everyone happy again but nothing has changed for 15 years. Why?

I started reading. Articles and books. Listening to podcasts. Binging on TED videos. I was confused by acronyms I didn’t understand. (It turns out it’s not just the military that suffers from O.R.O.A - Over Reliance On Acronyms). I gulped every time I read the intimidating bio of another expert author. Who was I to question their argument? The deeper I looked, the longer the words became, the more over-articulated the arguments were.

This George Orwell quote - from his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language - sprang to mind.

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long...

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Where Will Your Career Be 5 Years From Now?

There are three roadblocks that stop most people making the career change they want. 

I feel powerless. 

I’m not good enough. 

I don’t know where to begin. 

No, you’re not and yes you are. That’s the first two sorted. Let’s unpack number three.

Have you ever read a book, been on a holiday, seen a movie and it was so good that now you are compelled to tell others so off you go waxing lyrical at every opportunity? Every time in the recounting you remember a little more, discover a new angle. Some of your friends and family take up your recommendation, others glaze over with indifference. You aren’t offended by the latter. Just trying to share the joy after all. You move on with your day. 

You have just engaged in the purest form of selling; with conviction and in service of others.

You truly believed that their life would be better for following your recommendation. Imagine if you could sell yourself like that, that you...

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Career Strategy vs. Career Plan: Which Road Are You On?

Navigating your career journey is hard enough. Imagine partway through you discover you’ve been given the wrong maps. Could you make a career U-Turn? This discussion piece will let you (and your children) know if you have the right map.

When I grow up I want to be a scientist. That was my career plan as recorded by a Grade 3 sketch I found recently. Drawn by my own hand, the picture has me in a white lab coat and a bunch of test tubes. That plan didn’t make it past high school. I failed Maths, Physics, Chemistry. I didn’t have a new plan. I did though have the patchy beginnings of a career strategy that has served me well since.

I accepted responsibility, I found out what I needed to know and I got on with it. 

A career strategy is what saves you when you find out your career plan doesn’t work out the way you thought.

I feel lucky that I stumbled upon this early in my life. I am astonished that decades later they are still teaching our children in an...

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Visiting Death Row Was A Good Career Move

Decide comes from the same family of words as homicide, suicide, genocide, infanticide. The suffix ‘cide’ means to kill.  To decide is to kill off the alternatives.

Could a murderer (homicide) influence my career choices (decide)? Maybe yours?

If you feel stuck in your career and you could unravel your current situation and follow the threads back, you would likely start to notice patterns in your language. You’d hear yourself saying ‘but you don’t understand, my situation is different’, ‘my hands are tied’, ‘that’s not my decision to make.’

On the surface, these appear reasonable given the complex lives we lead. Stop and think about that for too long and you come to the unsettling conclusion that you are correct only if you have allowed others to make the decisions for you.

The world is going to throw stuff at us incessantly. Annoying traffic jams right up to an asteroid hitting our planet.

By and large, there...

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A Good Career Is Like A Magic Trick

Magicians never reveal their secrets. Right?

I’m going to shatter that maxim right now, all in service of challenging another maxim: the most qualified candidate gets the job.

The way a magician vanishes a coin involves deception. Are you deceiving yourself about what is important in your workplace?

Imagine I held a bright silver coin in one hand, slowly put it into my other hand, said a magic word, then opened both my hands to show them clearly empty. How could this bright shiny coin just disappear?

Magicians have an invisible tool bag of techniques. It’s not that big. If you were able to peek inside you’d see a jumble of sleight of hand moves and psychological principles. What you experience as a magic trick is a layering of physical technique - sleight of hand - and psychological technique - sleight of mind. 

It’s like one of those deluxe super-size hamburgers with bun, meat, cheese, more meat, salad, more cheese, mayo, meat again, bun. You bite into...

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Is Your Imagination Short-Circuiting Your Career Confidence

A little girl cries. The teacher fails her drawing assignment with a red cross through her treasured landscape. 

She trembles, ‘why?’

‘Silly girl, you know the sky is not orange, it is blue. Grass is green, not yellow. Clouds are white, not purple,’ insists her teacher.

‘But sunset is my favourite time,’ she responds. Another wall goes up on the boundaries of her imagination.

When our imagination leaves us around 4th grade as studies indicate, what happens to it? It sits there waiting for an opportunity. It’s there, alive and well, but it has changed teams. It’s no longer for us, it’s against us.

Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant started me thinking this. Last week I didn’t know who he was. I don’t follow any game with an offside rule. I just don’t get it. Last week I was listening to a podcast called Big Questions with Cal Fussman and I was introduced to Kobe Bryant who told this story.

Image:...
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The Real Cost Of Unhappy Employees

There’s a lot of people unhappy at work. Globally, industries are spending billions trying to re-engage their workforce, with little to show in return. Whether a large multinational or a small employer, disengaged employees cost you real dollars in lost revenue through lost productivity every day.

There is a simpler solution and I can show you it with a piece of string.

Someone told employers they can push a piece of string. You can’t do it. Try.

Employers are trying to push employees to be more motivated and engaged. They are trying to find external solutions to an internal problem but motivation comes from within. The workforce will remain limp, unable to be moved until internal strength is restored.

Only the individual has the power to restore their internal strength. Therefore it is critical to empower the individual. Luckily there’s a neglected powerhouse within every individual. It’s called personal responsibility. It’s also become an...

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Is Cheating Knocking You For Six At Work?

Ball tampering. Yet another disappointment huh! Are you affected at work by this?

In some small imperceptible way are you rolling up to work today just a little more deflated? 

Cricket makes me yawn but ball tampering makes me turn the radio up. I didn’t understand why until I read this ABC opinion article by journalist and presenter Stan Grant. 

In it, he posits that the neoliberal world we live in, a world governed by market forces more than political borders, has created an age where the individual - with a winner-take-all attitude - is exalted above society. Cricketers he says, are a prime example.

“They are paid millions of dollars, guns for hire to the highest bidder.

They no longer simply represent Australia — they play for Australia: they represent themselves.

Steve Smith can fly to South Africa to captain our national team and then return home and just as easily hop another flight to India to play in the rich Premier League, swapping his baggy...

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What Matters To You At Work?

Jordan B. Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto has been in the news a lot lately. I was intrigued with his arguments about personal responsibility and how quickly ‘right wing’ is stamped on the foreheads of those who speak it. 

I’ve been reading his book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos.

It got me thinking again as to why management has short-circuited getting to the bottom of the large numbers of their people who are unhappy at work.

Jordan Peterson made an observation: writers of old texts, including the Bible, did not and could not have written through a scientific lens. Any works older than five hundred years - when the scientific method was prescribed with the work of Francis Bacon, René Descartes and Isaac Newton - could only have been written with a different view on the world … and a view suited more to the pressing concerns of those times. Scientific...

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Will You Divorce Your Job?

What’s in a word? Engagement for instance. In the business world, an engaged workforce is a productive workforce. Employee engagement though seems an elusive goal.

Look at the word engagement in a different light. Used in the sense we are engaged to be married, it means you are signalling a commitment to each other, to work together for mutual benefit. For any marriage to work, there has to be give and take, compromise and awareness.

With so many people unhappy in their work could it be time for organisations to see and use the word engagement differently? 

There’s talk of an employee engagement crisis across the globe. Some argue this is over exaggerated. One camp says up to two-thirds of the workforce is disengaged. Another argues it’s about one quarter

Regardless there’s a lot of people unhappy at work.

And how are organisations dealing with this? Not well by most engagement metrics. Billions have been spent. Complex programs with a lot of...

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