Extract taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs to be reached. ‘The Flipping Point‘ contains 200 short vignettes exploring what ’deprogramming management’ may look like.
The Employee Engagement industry reinforces a mechanistic worldview of the individual
The Employee Engagement industry has managed to reinforce a mechanistic worldview of the individual in which the language of inputs and outputs dominates. Here, Employee Engagement is only good or important as long as it results in more productive employees. ‘Happy cows produce better milk’ is a book title in this area. Seriously. Good luck with it. It will never satisfy everybody. Question: what if engaging employees were simply morally right?
This sub-industry is totally dominated by an input-output model in which we discuss the nature of ‘the feeding of the cows in order to obtain better milk’. The production model is simply wrong. It reduces the individual to a machine. It’s immensely degrading. The ‘better engaged employees produce better results’ is shameful, lacks moral authority and trivialises the nature of work. But I will never win this one.
If you want high employee engagement, run a successful organization.
The industry of Employee Engagement (and there is a big one) says that companies with high employee engagement (as measured by some kind of artificial tool) are more successful. And produces ‘studies’ to prove it. Employee engagement is clearly portrayed as the reason for success, so the path is clear: how can we get more of it? My view is that success creates employee engagement, not the other way around. If you want high employee engagement, run a successful organization. I know it’s rather inconvenient to think this way.
The industry of Employee Engagement says that companies with high employee engagement are more successful (…) My view is that success creates employee engagement, not the other way around. The book The Halo Effect (2014) by Phil Rosenzweig opened my eyes to this. I would put this book in the list of obligatory reading to anybody in management. The subtitle of the book is explicit: ‘and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers’. Rosenzweig quotes the case of the UK retailer Marks and Spencer, a company which at some point scored at the top in employee engagement rankings. Then a terrible year in business performance came up and employee engagement scores went down signiﬁcantly. Not a single iota in beneﬁts, programmes, employee care, or anything had changed. Just abysmal market performance.
This book asks you to use more rigour and critical thinking in how you use assumptions and management practices that were created many years ago. Our real and present danger is not a future of robots and AI, but of current established BS. In this book, you are invited to the Mother of All Call Outs!
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- The myths of change. How traditional management and academic thinking is responsible for the colossal failure of change programmes. Debunking uncontested assumptions. Looking at the alternatives.
- The myths of company culture. Stuck in old concepts. How we have made cultural change hard and often impossible. The failure of communication programmes. The key to successful mobilizing of people for a purpose.
- The myths of management. Empowerment, ownership, accountability and other little challenged ideas. Non-management myths. What new management may look like.