Why Employee Engagement Efforts Fail

To be successful, employee engagement efforts must educate and inspire then model, mentor and measure.  Most employee engagement efforts educate employees and thereby lay out the rational case but they utterly fail to inspire.  Research has shown that emotional factors are four times as effective as rational factors when it comes to the amount of effort people put into their work. Stories move people’s hearts, capture their imaginations and, as a result, they inspire people to make the effort to change.  When we hear inspiring stories about great leaders and individual contributors who engage the people around them, we inevitably want to emulate them. This gets people started on the right track.

To keep them moving in the right direction and build habits that engage, modeling, mentoring and measuring are all necessary. Most leaders understand they must model the behavior they want to spread.  Mentoring and measuring are also necessary to provide honest feedback, help us see our blind spots and provide the encouragement individuals need to persevere.  Absent these essential elements, any program is unlikely to succeed.   Here are some questions to consider:

1. Do your employee engagement efforts inspire as well as educate?

2. Do your employee engagement efforts mentor to provide encouragement and measure results to provide honest feedback?

If your answer is “no” to either or both of the above, you need to address the gaps.


Here are a few updates related to my work.

Corp! magazine recently published an article on the presentation Jason Pankau and I gave at the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement, an affiliate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.  You can read it at this link.

The Boy Scouts of America selected Fired Up or Burned Out as a text for its People Management 3 course for advanced staff leaders.

On Jan. 26-27 I will be chairman of the Human Capital Institute’s Talent Management for Life Sciences conference in Princeton, NJ.

This month, Developing HR Strategy, a journal based in the UK, published an article I wrote about how leaders develop emotional and rational connections with their followers.

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