I was driving recently, can't remember where, and listening to the radio when the commentator I was listening to (again, can't remember who) said this:
“Celebrate rarely, but grind daily.”
The commentator said this when commenting about his own beliefs. He doesn't think you should celebrate all the time (but, Tim, celebrations are important – celebrate the little things!), in fact, he felt you should celebrate rarely. Grind out daily work – as if it was daily work, when you do something really worth celebrating – then celebrate.
Soon after I read Paul Hebert's post on Engagement – check it out – We Have Employee Engagement @$$-Backwards it's one of the better reads I've had in a long while. I connect with Paul's ideas, not because I don't trust people/employees will do the right thing, but because I've spent 20 years watching what people/employees will do – which is usually they'll find ways to manipulate the environment to their own benefit.
This is the crap all those Engagement vendors don't want you to know. They'll raise your engagement scores – then they leave – you'll see them go down – so you'll have them back – they go up again – it's a nice revenue cycle for them! You measure a baseline of engagement and survey. You act upon the survey and make changes to increase engagement. Repeat. Eventually, what do you have left to do or give to get more of an increase in engagement – and by the way – when is enough engagement,
enough? The engagement cycle that most organizations are on – if an expensive cycle that leads back to where they started.
I love my team. I really, honestly, do. My team is like my family. One thing my team gets is that I don't celebrate frequently. My expectations are very high. I believe in the daily grind. People who grind daily are people who I want on my bus. Don't get me wrong – I love to celebrate! But I love to celebrate big accomplishments – not daily deliverables. Most engagement 'experts' will tell you that isn't a good recipe for success. Partly because most experts confuse 'celebrations' with 'communication'. Frequent communication is essential for strong engagement, celebrations and the handing out of trophies, prizes, etc. has short term impact and long term consequences that are very hard to maintain.
So, what's my equation for great engagement?
1. Set high expectations.
2. Give your people the empowerment and tools to meet those expectations.
3. Communicate with them honestly about your business.
4. Reward them well for meeting those expectations.
It's like 5 steps – I give it away for free and in not one of those steps does it say ask employees what they want and then give it to them blindly (although, I'm sure my wishes that would be a step!).
Celebrate rarely. Grind daily. An engagement philosophy, that I can guarantee you, is not being sold by any engagement guru.