Recognize This! – There’s always more to learn from authors of books that matter.

Regular readers of Recognize This! know that I occasionally feature books I’ve read and enjoyed. When I read these books, it often feels like I’m engaging in a conversation with the author, exchanging ideas back and forth.

Even better is when this becomes reality. The people on the Marketing team here at Globoforce did just that, conducting Q&As with a couple of authors I featured in Recognize This! (Click through on the headline links below for the full Q&A.)

Kevin Sheridan, author of Building a Magnetic Culture, on who’s responsible for employee engagement

Globoforce: You’ve worked with a lot of companies that have created magnetic cultures. In your view, who is responsible for creating a magnetic culture?

Kevin Sheridan: Well, that’s where I think my industry has completely missed the boat, and the definition of employee engagement was so sorely in need of being updated. Under the old model, consultants would do these surveys and they’d come back to management and say, “Here are your pain points and here are your opportunities for improvement.” Then they’d train the managers and the supervisors and tell them the outcome of the employee surveys wasn’t very good because people dropped the ball.  And then the consultants would implore management to take this seriously ,and they’d build an action plan and blah blah blah. And very importantly there was a key constituent left out of the solution—that being the employees themselves.

So it should be dual ownership. We need to empower the employee to also be an owner of engagement. It seems like a no-brainer, right? I had a client I worked with for years, who said “Isn’t that the ultimate oxymoron — employee engagement without the employee? Why aren’t we involving the employee?” Yet so often, that piece is forgotten.

Globoforce: So it is a two way street.

Kevin Sheridan: Right. Literally every single item in an engagement survey is actionable by both the manager and the employee. That is the piece that is too often forgotten. A client of mine literally said to me “Kevin, something is missing. I’m tired of going back to my managers every year and saying it’s all up to you. When do we get the employee involved?” And when he said that, bells went off in my head, and he said words I will never forget. Those words were:  “If I think of the healthy relationships in my life, whether it is my relationship with my wife, my church, my kids, my community. They’re all a two way street. Why should engagement be anything different? And he said, “If my relationship with my wife was as one-sided as this, we would have been divorced by now.”

Mark Royal, Hay Group senior principal and co-author of The Enemy of Engagement, on the connection between engagement, enablement and recognition

Q. What is the relationship between engagement and enablement?

The two concepts tend to be mutually reinforcing. That is, a lack of enablement can undermine engagement and a lack of engagement can undermine enablement.  And we do tend to see that over time these two outcomes tend to come into alignment for people, whether at a high or low level. Highly motivated people who can’t seem to get things done may at some point stop trying.

Q. Is there a correlation between recognition and enablement?

Well, we definitely think of recognition as an engagement factor. It’s one of the ways in which organisations can signal to employees that their extra contributions are valued. And that, of course, is important to sustaining those extra contributions over time. If I go above and beyond and no one notices, then maybe it’s not worth my time to do or deliver more. So recognition plays a critical role, I think, in helping to reinforce engagement. But I am preaching to the choir on that.

From an enablement standpoint, I also think there is a tie in. We often encourage organisations to think about recognition as a positive form of performance feedback. In addition to an expression of appreciation for an employee’s contributions, it’s one of the ways we can signal to employees the level of priority we place on certain tasks. Because when we stop to recognise and appreciate particular efforts, we’re calling them out as important activities for employees to focus on. …

One of the ways individual managers can enable their teams in that context is by providing clarity on the ‘must-win battles’.  An effective recognition programme that ties into the broader objectives of the organisation can be a very effective tool for helping to highlight what’s really important, not only for the employees who receive recognition but also for others who observe the types of accomplishments or activities that are being recognised among their co-workers. It can be a great way of helping to clarify for employees what some of those must-win battles are.  And that that can go a long way toward creating an enabling environment.

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