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You Don't Need No Stinking Surveys to Measure Engagement...

Engagement - it's a buzzword. 

I think it's a real concept, but we've driven it into the ground with a thousand different articles to the point where it means different things to different people, and let's face it - most people in our business couldn't agree on what the termAsleep means, much less how to promote it in the workplace.

Can everyone in your workplace be engaged?  No way - human nature prevents that.  Can you figure out who's engaged? 

Sure.  Just look at who takes the time to perform via email when it doesn't matter. The following email is from a configuration team member at my company who works a lot of hours.  Among the thousand things he does for us is own the process of deploying new releases of our software to the production environment (we do hosted solutions, so we own that for customers).  When we have a new release that needs to go into production, that gets done overnight - when customers aren't using our app.

When the update process is complete, Steve sends an email to everyone in the company.  Recently, Steve made a change.  Rather than saying "the new release is up, people", he starting entertaining via email.  He didn't have to do that, no one expects that.  Now people come in during the morning and his "the new release is up, people" emails went from being deleted unread to being read by everyone.  Here's a recent taste, where he took some shots at me, how I title people in my department, the CEO, and the demands of his job (names changed as appropriate):

From: Steve Mannester
Date: April 14, 2010 1:08:31 AM CDT
To: Everyone
Subject: DAXKO Accounting 10.2.4 Release Deployed to Production

What’s in a name…

SCM: I have been corresponding with Kristie and noticed her title was Talent Sherpa, what’s that all about?

Kris Dunn: Sherpa is used to refer to local people who are employed as guides for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, particularly Mt. Everest.  They are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local terrain.  Thus our Sherpas are DAXKO’s expert guides to seek out the best talent.

SCM: Ohhh, so is everyone getting a new title?

Kris Dunn: We are getting around to everyone. Take our CEO, for instance, his new title is “Grand Poobah”, it’s a Flintstone thing.

SCM: Can I change my title to “Grand Master Flash”?

Kris Dunn: Sorry, David only wants one title with the word “Grand”.

SCM: Can I change my title to “Nike”?

Kris Dunn: Sure, but why Nike?

SCM: Because I am always told “Just Do It”

I just did it…10.2.4 release from DAXKO Accounting has been deployed on RackSpace Production, DataValidation, Demo and Training sites. Conversion has also been updated.  All sites up and running.

Classic. Who doesn't love that?  3-4 times a week, he's writing original content.  He's either engaged in his own career, via caring what people think, the company, etc., but he's engaged.  The bottom line is he's giving something he doesn't have to give, and people love it. 

That's engagement.  I don't need the Gallap G12 to tell me that.  How to get people to want to give that discretionary effort?  That's the holy grail.


David Bowles

Kris, DAXKO participated in "stinking surveys" about something very akin to engagement ("Best Small Companies to Work For") in order to be told how well it was doing and be able to then brag about it on its website and no doubt use it in recruitment.

Personally I think its a fantastic achievement to be named as one of the best small companies, and I mean that sincerely. But surveys, stinking or otherwise, were the ONLY way in which you would know how good DAXKO was vis a vis other similar organizations.


John D Roberts

There are many reasons to use a steekeeng survey, but few of them have to do with recognizing engagement when you see it. I'm avoiding using the word engagement. I am disciplining myself to call it "doing a good job." Eventually we'll get past the word the way we have overcome other word-based initiatives.

David Bowles

John you may be one of the early signs of an "engagement backlash". Right now we have "engagement experts" coming out of the woodwork. Its like a stock market bubble where your taxi driver gives you stock tips. All my clients wanted, when I ran their employee surveys for them, was to know: "how are my people doing?" I am like you and prefer to keep it simple rather than subscribing to the "flavor of the month". Engagement is a by-product of high morale, pure and simple, and that has been around for decades.


Bret Simmons

Right on. And most people don't realize that the G12 does not even measure engagement - it measures what Gallup believes causes engagement. Just look at the questions -they are causal indicators and not effect indicators. Even so, are you telling me you needed to hire Gallup to tell you those 12 things on the list were important? If so, you have no business being a leader. That stuff is Management 101, not a magic formula.


So, Kris, what's your title going to be?


Kris - You should change Steve's title to Nike because he not only does it, he does more. Great story of engagement. Being able to bring that something extra to the table for even what could be a mundane task is a great example of what engagement looks like. There are so many ways to measure engagement, but I do believe it is one of those things that you recognize when you see it. Your boy Steve has it.

Jordans 6

Thanks so much for posting these, they are fantastic! So bummed I missed what looks like a truly unique evening.

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