Engagement isn’t about money, it’s about leadership

A recent HBR blog post mentioned the results from a recent Gallup survey: Less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their jobs in any given year.

This is a great topic. Many leaders get wrapped up around money, which is never, ever, a
long-term motivator or anything but a short-term, artificial boost to engagement. Engagement—real employee ownership– requires
leadership, thoughtfulness, and a demonstrated compassion for employees; we
must sincerely care as much about their well-being as we do our own.

Misguided leaders believe that motivation and engagement is
about dollars–that if you have sufficient, budgeted dollars, you can
motivate effectively; if you’re cash-poor, then suddenly you are
de-motivating…making a disengaged workforce “not my fault.”

Absolute malarkey. BS. Balderdash. Pure unadulterated bunk.

Here’s 3 things within your grasp today that can drive
employee engagement: Communications, Involvement, & Recognition.

1. Communications. Make sure performance and objectives
expectations are realistic and equally aligned. Be honest and open with data
and information; allow your staff to determine what “enough”
information is, before you arbitrarily decide. Provide a good, forthright look
at the “big picture.” Eliminate unnecessary blaming, and be

2. Involvement. Here, you’ll determine what your staffs’ key
motivators really are. Not just parties, but provide opportunities for real,
substantial input. Force decision-making down to more appropriate levels.
Increase ownership and buy-in through inclusion in both front-end planning and
progress efforts. Eliminate unnecessary hierarchy.

3. Recognition. I’m not talking here about “employee of
the month/quarter/millennium.” I am speaking about making sure your
management attention is appropriate for someone’s performance level–don’t
micromanage a key performer just to satisfy your control-freak tendencies.
Provide developmental/learning opportunities within the work and project
itself–allow employees to grow through “doing.”

Engagement isn’t about the money. It’s about effective
leaders stepping up to lead, and taking personal accountability for that
leadership. Money can certainly provide an incentive for behavior changes and
specific performance, but you can’t buy the real engagement that provides
impetus for employee acceptance of personal accountability–the responsibility
to do “whatever is necessary.” That comes from skilled leadership,
not the ATM.



Kevin Berchelmann


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