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3 Rants on Employee Engagement & Performance

Posted by Irvine, Derek at Wednesday, 05/09/2012 11:14 am
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Recognize This! – Avoid these common prejudices and misunderstandings if you want to engage employees for increased productivity and performance.

I’m all for a good rant now and again. I’ve been known to go on a few myself. This morning I read three good rants from bloggers and writers I respect and learn from. They are worth sharing with a larger audience.

1) “Over-qualified” workers can become your most engaged employees – if you give them a chance.

TLNT Editor John Hollon points out the major fallacies in thinking by hiring managers who don’t want to hire “over-qualified” workers for let pay than they are accustomed to receiving. Too often, the fear is these employees will simply leave for more money or a better position as soon as they can.

Quotation“You want to improve your employee engagement? Well, why not hire some of those out-of-work and overqualified people who are dying to get back on the job? Some may eventually go before you want them to, but my guess is that it will be less of an issue than you think. And, you’ll probably find you have invested in many people who are grateful to be working and driven to prove you were right to hire them – two keys in improving your engagement scores. … You want engaged employees? Well, challenge your assumptions and misconceptions — and take a look at some of the great but underutilized talent just sitting out there waiting to be hired.”

I agree with John. Giving someone a chance to prove themselves and get back into the workforce can be the one of the strongest engaging factors. As business improves, likely you’ll have opportunities for these employees to grow in your organization as well. Their knowledge, skills, and – yes – loyalty are certainly worth the risk.

2) Shame is never an effective performance management tool.

In his Omega HR Solutions blog, Mike Haberman shared a suggestion from Daniel Hammermesh, contributor to the Freakonomics blog, that we would be better served to shame poor performers than to praise strong ones.

Quotation“He says he thinks SHAME would be more effective… He once suggested to a journal that rather than rewarding the fastest referees (people who read and grade articles submitted for publication) with recognition and money they should instead publish the list of the slowest referees. If we transfer this concept to the workplace rather than rewarding our workers to make the more effective we would shame the very poor workers to make them work harder. Think that will work?”

Mike rightly denounces this position as ridiculous, yet it’s a position more managers than we would like to think might agree with. Unfortunately, I think Mike may be correct in this assumption based on what I see all too often in the workplace. After all, we have far more methods for providing and recording negative feedback in the workplace than we do for providing and recording positive praise and encouragement. That reality is what’s truly shameful.

3) “Engagement” is too often confused with “satisfaction” or “happiness.”

Using his four-year-old daughter’s soccer experience as an example, Jason Lauritsen points out that all too often, “employee engagement” efforts focus assessing how well people enjoy their work and not necessarily how effect or productive they are at it.

Quotation“Employee engagement isn’t about people feeling good about work and enjoying their experience, at least not when you run a for-profit business. Employee engagement must first be about impacting and improving company performance. Is your objective to get more effort out of your unproductive, but very happy, employees? I hope not. We need more productivity and performance out of employees at every level and in every situation. The conversation about and practice of employee engagement needs to change. It’s time to refocus our efforts on what our organizations really need: performance.”

True employee engagement assesses how well employees both understand what needs to be done and, critically willing give discretionary effort to accomplish it. It’s not about how happy employees are while they do it, or how satisfied they are with the work experience.

Bottom line: Engagement is about understanding and results – productivity and performance on what leadership has deemed important. Sure, satisfaction and happiness can contribute to an employee’s willingness to engage, but the end result of engagement is very different.

How about you? What have you seen that you’d like to rant about?

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