- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Organizations wired wrong (1 of 5): desired outcomes mistaken as inputs. The case of ‘Engagement’

Employee engagement is an outcome, not in input. You don’t inject engagement or engineer activities to engage. Those do exist. It’s call the job.

You either

(1) Create the conditions of  (pick one, or as many) trust, meaningful work, purpose, autonomy of the individual etc (input)  which will lead to employee engagement (outcome)
(2) Run a very successful company which makes very attractive to be in and where people will be engaged

In model (I) conditions create engagement, and engagement (probably, maybe, it’s said that) creates success.

In model (2) [never, never spoken, don’t ask me why] success breads engagement.

In model (1) the thinking is: is you want a successful company, create the conditions in which people will have high employee engagement. That will lead to success.

In model (2) the thinking is, ‘if you want high employee engagement, run a very successful and attractive company; you’ll see how engaged your people are

Nobody has ever proved model (1) although there are (a) reams of correlations and (b) reams of data on how people are not engaged, according to questionnaires which ask those questions.

Model (2), dismissed by the Employee Engagement ‘industry’ (because it does not start with an input such a questionnaire)  is proven every day in practice; measure the number of people who want to be in, and stay. How long is the queue of potential employees at the door, is you Employee Engagement index.

Very successful and attractive companies don’t bother about Employee Engagement rituals and measures, in the same way as they don’t measure the quality of the water supply. Very successful and attractive companies ARE Employee Engagement in practice.

If you love your kids, you don’t measure your love

To those lovers of a Model (3), that is, ‘it’s both ways, of course, stupid’, congratulations for your insight. Sure, it’s always two ways. But, if this is the case, why the Employee Engagement sub-industry is only talking about input delivers outcomes? That is one way.

Indeed, the dominant logic is: inject joy, happiness, satisfaction, engagement and you’ll get high performance and business success. In other words, feed the machine with good oil. It’s the ‘Contented Cows Give Better Milk’ model, real title of a real book about employee engagement where you have just been been called cow. And you are supposed to laugh and feel it’s very funny. In  the organizational life, many, many, many things that we treat like inputs are/should be in fact desired outcomes. That confusion percolates management thinking every day. I am just calling it out.

PS1: “Transparency’ follows the same rules. More tomorrow, when I will argue that if you want ‘transparency’ you should not ask for it.

PS2. Remember to ‘tell others to tell others’ to subscribe to this list. It’s free. Very frequently annoying, and you are not obliged to agree. But you won’t remain neutral to  the topic. Promise.