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Is Employee Engagement a Threat or a Thread?

Are we creating iatrogenic disengagement?

(Reading time 1 minute, 20 seconds)

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Employee engagement may threaten the established ways of working when we fully engage employees and stop stifling  voice, identity, and innovation. I believe the fresher ways of working produce both fear and threat for many leaders and managers. I think conducting anonymous surveys suggest that engagement is seen as a threat in the organization. I have always believed that disengagement should not be a punishable offense but rather a trigger for a conversation about work. How can it trigger a conversation if we don’t know who is saying what?  If leaders and managers really don’t know who is saying what and have to rely on a survey to get some aggregate data I think they need to be more engaged with employees.

It seems to me engagement must be threatening if the only way we believe employees will tell us the truth is if we make their responses anonymous – – – yet being anonymous inside an organization is certainly one of the contributors to feeling disengaged from the organization.  In medicine this is termed iatrogenesis – the illness is caused by the treatment. I think in many circumstance, our anonymous surveys are causing iatrogenic disengagement.

Engagement can be a thread that sews work, management, and leadership together. It changes how we work as we operate more from invitation, connection, conversation, trust, value-congruence, etc. So let’s take the thread of engagement and use it to stitch together the open wounds of threat in our organizations and work together so work will work for everyone. If we do this, I sincerely believe work can be healing and make us well.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert who firmly believe that for work to be sustainable it must make us well.

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