• Howard Risher

    I agree solidly with John’s comments.  Its consistent with my blog from last week.
    My consulting takes me to every sector and the differnces in employee commitment are night and day. 
    I teach HR courses occasionally and ask the students to develop a paper on the old movie, Apollo 13.  It’s the best picture of a high performance organization I’ve found. 

    When people have jobs where they feel that way, they can work long hours, go home exhausted but and looking forward to returning the next day.  They love it.

    In speeches I often contrast that with my brother who at age 38 told me he was looking forward to retirement.  There are far too many people who would voice a similar comment.

  • http://twitter.com/HRAthletics Joshua Westbrook

    I love when leaders dismiss traditional thinking.  “We don’t lead anything because leadership implies that you have control. So we catalyze; we don’t lead.” This is genius.

  • http://www.peterquintana.co.uk/ Peter Quintana

    I agree that culturally, employee engagement is much more than getting your workforce to do what you want them to do, and that therefore the bond between leaders, managers and employees must be powerful for that to happen. I also agree that employees need to feel they have a voice, and that their voice is being heard. But does anyone else think that getting people to believe what you want them to believe is a little akin to brainwashing? 

  • JoAnn Corley


  • http://twitter.com/jmagid Jonathan Magid

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree. Strongly. I don’t read this article the way that fawning sycophants do. Rather, what I see in Whitehurst’s comments is manipulation and dismissal. Even the structure of the statement that seems to so animate Mr. Hollon reveals a rather dark shadow. “Getting them to believe what you want them to believe” inherently rejects others contributions and input. “Your beliefs don’t matter here. My job as leader is to get you to believe (or at least act like you do) what I want you to believe.” This isn’t about engagement, it’s about compliance.

    Similarly, Whitehurst’s comments about inclusion belie what appears to me to be an inherently exclusionary mindset. Read it again and you’ll probably see: “We let debate happen, and you kind of let it burn itself out.” In other words, we encourage people to babble away, but we certainly don’t feel obligated to listen to them. It’s really just our way of managing change, to make people feel like they might have been heard.

    I think this is very far indeed from “the best definition of employee engagement” anyone will ever read. The art of leadership isn’t “getting people to believe what you want them to believe,” it’s aligning people’s beliefs and purpose with the purpose of the organization or team. That’s a totally different thing. The first inherently defines people as nothing more than replaceable units of energy whose beliefs can be switched on or over at the whim of the “real” people. The latter implies a joint effort built on respect and the conviction that the contribution of all matters.

    People don’t have to have “decision rights” in the latter scenario. But it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll be respected, honored, and included than in the former. In the end, THAT’S the ticket to engagement: not just getting someone to believe what you think is right for them, but jointly creating with them the conditions in which their contribution actually matters.

  • Lynne Donley

    Jim Whitehouse is dead on although I don’t think everyone has to always agree or believe in one way.  It’s being really heard that’s the crucial point as well as explaining the reasons for decisions.  The opposite has been true in many companies where I’ve conducted engagement surveys.  Pretty simple concept; I don’t know why people in charge don’t get it.  It really boils down to respect for the intelligence of your work force. 

  • Debbie_wiggan

    The best description of employee engagement I ever heard was at Australia Zoo – the zoo set up by the late Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter – they had to lock employees out at night time and not allow them in before 6am to keep them away from the place – now THAT’S employee engagement!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jappreet.sethi Jappreet Sethi

    Great article, Steve. I couldn’t agree more.Employees want to be a part of decision making and gone are the days of ” told you – just do it”. This is the age of Co – Creation.

    Jappreet Sethi


    Follow on Twitter for HR Articles @HR_Whiz

  • http://twitter.com/shemcohen shem cohen

    Sounds good, but the most powerful employee engagement I’ve witnessed is when leaders/employees co-create beliefs/discover meaning.

  • http://twitter.com/dkwtechnik Mr. Ketter

    It is great to see that common sense is now in fashion. Business leaders should realize: slaves work out of fear, employees work hoping for a better situation and partners work for the success of your business. Which of the three do you think will pray for your demise and which will work toward your triumph?

    It can be a very easy fix actually. What would happen if you made everyone a partner –at least in theory? You would then have hundreds if not thousands working to make you successful. As opposed to having many ‘work enemies’ on your payroll. Engagement is the key to making the transition from slave to employee. Rewards and recognition will get your employees to become partners.

    What would be the simplest way to facilitate this transition? If a company had a private social network it could engage its workers on a social level. The network could also incorporate game technology in order to reward and recognize worker contributions. In the same way that families and friends use Facebook, twitter and other social networks to foster close ties, this private network could allow businesses to do the same. The possibilities are limitless and take full advantage of a company’s human capital.{s}hareCLOUD creates these networks and could be the key to true engagement. This will change the way we work, live and play.