One of my clients in rural Massachusetts wanted a team of mid-level managers and professionals to work nights and weekends to implement its new computer system. This caused the team members to miss their kids’ soccer games and other special family times. When the system was successfully implemented, the owner planned to pay for the new system by laying off half the team. The company was too far from any major population center for the laid off employees to commute to any new jobs, and the company was the only employer in town, so houses were worth almost nothing and could not be easily sold. Not so surprisingly, the software never met its goals, so the owner was not able to lay off any of the team.
The problem with employee engagement, as it is commonly viewed, is this: it’s all company-centric. Companies use every tool and technique in the book to try to engage their employees into enhancing the company’s well-being.
This also used to be true of how companies treated customers – customers were supposed to buy what the company wanted them to buy. However, companies finally learned that customers will buy what they want to buy, so companies have gotten much better at listening to their customers, so they can sell what the customers want. However, companies have not yet realized that they can do the same with their employees – that they can ask their employees what they really want, and help them get it.
In my consulting on 4 continents, I have found that there is a common thread the grounds what most people want: they want a good life for their children and their grandchildren. If that is the case in your organization, the question that would truly engage employees would look like this: “How can we use our products and services to help make the world a better play for our children and their children?”
Do you agree? Disagree? I would welcome feedback and pushback. I learned a long time ago that I only learn when somebody disagrees. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org Hope to hear from you.