Is Pointing out a Problem More Valuable Than Fixing it? Asking for a Friend…

Paul Hebert Communication, Employee Engagement, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, HR Technology, Paul Hebert

A lot is written on employee engagement.

Probably too much. Check that. Not probably, actually.

As an HR pro and someone your company probably relies on for engagement ideas, I know you struggle. I know that even though most engagement problems exist in the three feet of air between an employee and their manager, you are still the one responsible for fixing it. You are still run the department the CEO sees as the “engagement” department.

But it struck me the other evening that HR has the same problem that the people have in the most recent series of Lifelock commercials. You have a ton of people pointing out problems around engagement – but not many who can help you fix it.

If you’re not familiar with the new spat of Lifelock commercials you can view them here.

The gist of their commercials is this: there are a bunch of companies that will monitor your credit and your identity to alert you to when someone is trying to take over your identity to get credit and rob you blind, but very few companies that actually help you once you have a problem in that area. As the Dentist-appearing actor says in the commercial;

“I’m not a dentist, I’m a dental monitor. I just tell you when you have a bad cavity.”

I’m not an Engagement Company – I’m an Engagement Monitoring Company

So many companies will provide you with tools to measure and report on engagement but do little to really help you nail down the specific to-dos needed to fix the problem. I’ve asked HR folks what they need most in the way of engagement and almost to a one they say “someone to help me with the ‘how’ – I know I have an issue. I know I want engagement. But I’m not getting good information on the specifics of how to fix it.”

Now it is possible they just aren’t dealing with the right companies. But I think there is a bigger issue when it comes to “engagement” companies. Since engagement became a thing, there have been all kinds of companies jumping on the engagement bandwagon – all with different ways to measure their definition of engagement (which by the way can vary widely from company to company) but not a ton of great plans to fix it. Sure, some will say – “communicate more.” Others will suggest acting on specific survey outputs like adding on-site day care. But as I talk with HR people I still hear so much angst around the actually fixing of the problem.

I have a theory about why that is. I think it is so much easier to be the person to point out a problem, than it is to be the person who has to fix the problem. There is no accountability to being the “monitor.” If you’re right you can say see how smart you are. If you’re wrong there are no ramifications because nothing was really changed. Nothing was implemented. You have no skin in the game. But, the person who comes in and fixes the problem – or tries to – that is the person who is accountable. That person is someone who knows they have to get it right to survive and work another day.

Find People with Skin in the Game

I only bring this up because I think the real way to affect engagement in a company is to do more than monitor it. You need to get in and get your hands dirty and if your “engagement” company simply monitors engagement, you may not be getting the right feedback. If the “engagement monitor” doesn’t have to help fix the problem they may not be reporting what really needs to be worked on.

I want my partners to have mutual goals. That means if I have a problem with engagement – then they have a problem.

Simply telling me I have a problem isn’t nearly as important and helping me fix the problem.

Do you have a survey tool for engagement? Do you have an employee engagement monitoring company working for you or do you have an employee engagement fixing company?

I’m going to bet most of you have monitors, not manifestors helping with your engagement.

Do yourself a favor and find a manifestor. That is where the value really is. And if you can tie their fee to your goal attainment you really found someone you can count on.

(PS… and the irony of me writing a post pointing out a problem and not having to fix isn’t lost on me either.)