Engagement Is Real – And You Help Make It So.

glass-half-full-560

So my FOT colleague William Tincup thinks “engagement” is a bunch of crock.

I beg to differ.

What can I say? My glass is half full.

A few baseline notes which are mentioned in the comment thread of his post before I go on.

  • Engagement isn’t happiness. I think this is true. We shouldn’t confuse the two.
  • But a standard definition for employee engagement? Maybe nonexistent. Academic definitions, yes. But engagement from organization to organization will probably differ – methods for measurements will differ – the value of will differ.

Agree? Good. Now let’s keep walking this dog…

Here’s where I’m struggling. I have a problem with outright casting the net really wide and saying, engagement is a crock. A con. Why can’t we – especially us HR and recruiting types – simply believe in a better vision for work and bring that vision to life for our organizations? Even if it means we slowly chip away toward that diamond in the rough. Engagement. Not sheer, pure ecstasy for the work we do. Not an ultra-scientific thing that we hypothesize, test, re-test and analyze. But something else.

Sure, there can be a lot of B.S. one has to deal with in a corporate setting. It’s also hard being an entrepreneur on your own. Working for the man, working for yourself, there are tradeoffs and finding the right fit depends on your style. Either way though, work is definitely work. You’ve got to work at work. But I think when you’re engaged, when you’re correctly aligned in the right role for your talents, when you’re surrounded with the right team, when you know clearly what your goals and the rewards for achieving those goals… work doesn’t just have to be work. It can be more. And you find more meaning in and satisfaction from it all. Is that so crazy? Am I simplifying too much?

Maybe it’s because I love my job and am madly in love with the culture of my company. Maybe it’s because I think there’s huge hope for what I can do in the long term with the power of my team and the power of my leadership. Maybe it’s because I see, hear and experience firsthand the difference it makes to have engaged colleagues. Maybe it’s because I know for myself how much I can get done and impact when I am personally engaged.

And maybe it’s because I just always want so much more for us as HR pros. We can be better, we can do better, we can make a difference.  So let’s not over think this, simplify it, and think about how we can impact engagement and make something more meaningful of it:

  • Are you a recruiter? Help foster engagement by really getting the right people in the right jobs who are the right match to your culture. Don’t stick people who can do the job but aren’t a good fit or for whom the role won’t be a good match in their career path. Give candidates realistic snapshots of the job, the culture, the expectations. Don’t let them get set up for failure.
  • Are you a manager? See the above. Do all of that plus recognize that people have lives. Work is work, kinda. And let people have a life outside of work. And don’t be a sad sack. Know you play a huge role in engagement. If you can’t motivate people to do their best and be their best? Maybe you shouldn’t be a manager. You’re a big part of this.
  • Are you an HR pro who touches talent management? Don’t make engagement complicated. You can try to measure it, you can try to instill processes and programs to address engagement and create higher engagement levels… but more than likely, it’s a personal thing to employees. So make sure you develop managers and recruiters and fellow HR pros so that they understand it’s about the relationship and getting to the right fit and match. If they can’t do the two things above? Get them out of the job and into the right job. Put your recruiter’s hat on and re-align the misaligned.

I’m not so crazy as to believe that you’ll ever get to 100% engagement. I’m not so crazy as to deny that for some people, a job is just a job. But what if you could chip away and convert some of those types and have them start thinking about their job as being more than just that?

Love ya, Tincup. You are brilliant and a fascinating guy… but next time I see ya, let me buy you a drink and get that glass of yours to be a bit closer to mine… more than half full. xoxo.

FOT Background Check

Jessica Lee
Jessica Lee is director of digital talent strategy for Marriott International. In this newly minted role, she leads their talent related digital and social media efforts for the Marriott International family of brands... which means she blogs, tweets and plays on Facebook all day. Kind of. In what she'll quickly tell you is her dream job, JLee is working to differentiate and position Marriott to most effectively optimize innovative technologies to address the brand's business needs in the talent space.  Check out the baseline of what Marriott has done on Facebook, or in this profile via Fortune Magazine in which they are called out as a social media star. Pretty freaking cool what they've done already... and she'll work to take it even further to the next level. Don't be fooled by that fancy pants digital stuff though, she's still an everyday HR gal in the trenches at the core. SPHR certified, a decade or so into trench HR life... she can whip up a corrective action plan or source for your purple squirrel in a heartbeat. Talk to Jessica via EmailLinkedInTwitter or Facebook... See Jessica's riffs and rants on Fistful of Talent here...

8 Comments

  1. Bruce Kestelman says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Well said.

    I too wondered about Tincup, maybe, I thought, just indigestion.

    I think maybe some of Tincup’s frustration, and maybe some of your awareness is based upon my observation that employee engagement has achieved fad like status. Like most fads, people are reaching out because they are always looking for that magic bullet.

    Those doing the really hard work of creating great work place cultures realize that not only is work work, that creating that engaging culture is really hard work too. There is no cookbook approach.

    Eventually, I think, there will be less talk about employee engagement, and consulting firms will find another banner, and the organizations that are really willing to do the hard work, will continue and employees in those organizations will find a greater sense of meaning and purpose and maybe even once in awhile a sense of joy and awe about what was able to be accomplished for the client and beyond.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Milhizer says:

    Jessica, I think you are right to bristle at the suggestion that engagement is complete bunk. It’s certainly a blunt instrument.
    So let’s take Tincup’s argument to it’s logical conclusion…work stinks and there’s nothing that can be done to make it better, so why bother? It’s a waste of time and resources, and we might as well all accept our destiny to wallow in misery. It’s starting to feel like a Chekhov play in here. Apathy isn’t becoming, and try justifying HR’s existence with that line of reasoning. Hole-poking is entertaining, but where’s the enlightening alternative? I guess that’s what nihilism is all about.

    Reply
  3. Frank Zupan says:

    Great post Jessica! Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Nicely done. Drinks for both you and he are on me.

    Reply

Trackbacks for this post

  1. How Engagement Is Like Marriage - RecognizeThis! Blog
  2. What Is Employee Engagement? Here’s How It’s a Lot Like Marriage
  3. Is This a Disruptive Event – Or Just a Blip? – Salesforce Launches Work.com « I2I – Incentive Intelligence
  4. Symbolist

Leave a Comment