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Recently at an event where I was working as an employee retention speaker, an audience member came up to me and quietly asked for a minute of my time.  I sensed something was up so I stepped aside and she proceeded to tell me that the engagement studies at the place where she worked were way down.  So, in order to improve engagement, they required that everyone pick one activity that they were going to be more engaged in and wrote it into their objectives for the year.  What?  It is rare that I am speechless but this was one of those times.

It took me a while to process this information it was so bizarre.  This was a large, well-known organization that should have realized that you can’t mandate engagement.  Perhaps this is a big reason that this employee retention author is not a huge fan of engagement.  It has become a buzz word that pisses off good employees who just want to be left alone to just do their job!  They want management to get out of the way long enough so they can make a difference and get things done.  Management confuses people who aren’t jumping up and down as disengaged.  That’s ridiculous!

If you want engagement, leave people alone and let them do their job.  Part of letting people do their job is to give them a lot of C.R.A.P. (Caring, Respect, Appreciation, and Praise).  Part of the C.R.A.P. philosophy is to not micromanage people.  What this organization was doing was trying to mandate something they can’t get by mandating it.  That is classic micromanagement.  If you have enough respect for people, you will treat them as adults and expect them to do their job.  If they don’t, you have an open, honest discussion with them about why it did not occur and what needs to change going forward.

This is simple stuff.  If you treat people like adults, they generally act like adults.  If not, address it in a constructive manner.  The thought that you can force someone to be engaged is beyond the comprehension of this employee retention expert’s simple mind.  Instead, your strategy should be focused on letting them do their job and getting out of their way.  Give them the RESPECT that the C.R.A.P. philosophy of employee retention calls for and watch what happens.  Before you know it, you will have employees that are fired up (that’s the word I like much better than engaged) and doing things you never dreamed they would be doing.  Why?  Because C.R.A.P. works!