22 Awful Employee Engagement Mistakes

By David Zinger for DavidZinger.com

Here are 22 awful employee engagement mistakes.

  1. Rules are for Rulers. Thinking employee engagement can be reduced to rules. Rules are for Rulers and board games, not for people. I don’t want to work for someone who thinks they are my Ruler or that they can Monopolize me.
  2. HR and Beyond. Thinking employee engagement is just another HR issue. And while we are at it, I think it is time for HR to morph into this century. Just as we let go of Personnel it is time to let go of HR and become Internal Community Mobilizers or Internal People Artists or something that doesn’t just keep pairing humans with the word resource.
  3. Measure madness. Thinking employee engagement is simply taking a survey or a pulse or some other measure of a person. Often these surveys contribute to disengagement and breed cynicism.
  4. Them is us. Leaders and managers and supervisors looking at employee engagement as something that they are not a part of too. Leaders, managers, and supervisors…you are employees too. Don’t ever refer to employees as them because, “them is us.”
  5. The answers begins with the questions. Thinking an external consultant has the best questions for your survey and failing to ask your employees what questions you should be asking about engagement. We don’t play a part in things we didn’t have a hand in creating.
  6. Finish strong with a call to action. Not finishing the employee engagement survey (if you simply have to have one) with the question: What do you need to do right now to enhance your own engagement?
  7. Villains and victims. Looking for villain to blame for lack of engagement, perceiving yourself to be a victim and then acting as if you are helpless. Management must stop villainizing unions just as unions must stop villainizing management. Do you really want to be a victim and spend your working days thinking you are helpless?
  8. Be happy. Confusing employee engagement with having happy employees of satisfied employees and not focusing on the results that will make a difference. If organizations do not stay economically viable they will be valuable to no one including employees.
  9. Stop the secret. Naively searching for the secrets that will unlock employee engagement and falling prey to clever copywriters or marketers who try and sell you tired and worn out tips cleverly disguised as secrets.
  10. Better systems. Believing the answer to employee engagement relies in a better system like a new performance management system and failing to see the importance of authentic, connected, and engaged dialogue.
  11. No time to talk. Thinking engaging dialogue will take too much time. I believe NASA has proven it can occur in about 45 seconds and save lives.
  12. Don’t you trust me? Foisting all kinds of initiatives and deceits upon employees and bemoaning employees lack of trust as you call them your greatest resource and fire them at the first sign of trouble.
  13. Avoiding immediacy with social media. Engaging employees through email, slogans, and cute You Tube CEO videos while failing to really show up and  talk with them face-to-face.
  14. We need disengagement. Believing inflated statistics of disengagement offered by clever categorization schemes designed by consulting companies with vested interests in having disengaged employees as a problem to be solved. Why don’t I find these huge numbers of disengaged employees when I go from company to company talking directly with employees.
  15. What’s in a name? Believing anonymous survey data. Engagement needs a name and a face and authentic safe conversation that join all of us together. Part of the problem with engagement is that employees feel ignored or anonymous…so do you really want me to believe that an anonymous survey is actually a step in the right direction towards engagement.
  16. Vampires and stakes. Using the term employee engagement as a euphemism for “we just want to suck more work out of our people.”  We are not vampires and we all need to have a stake in our work.

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