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Closing the Engagement Gap: How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results Hardcover – December 26, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Don Lowman is a member of the firm's executive council and board of directors, and is managing director of strategic growth. Towers Perrin, based in Stamford, Connecticut, is a global professional services firm that has more than 6,000 employees and serves about 700 of the Fortune 1000 companies.
Joanne Gordon is a veteran business journalist.
- Item Weight : 14.3 ounces
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1591842387
- ISBN-13 : 978-1591842385
- Dimensions : 5.82 x 1.13 x 8.6 inches
- Publisher : Portfolio Hardcover; 1st edition (December 26, 2008)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,041,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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With that said, though, the book still provided a wonderful context for how to think about engaging your employees. The Know-Grow-Inspire-Involve-Reward framework is a practical way of considering employee engagement. So while I didn't get the virtual detail and examples I was hoping for, I do have a good way of thinking about overall strategies.
The five principles seem simple and they are, in a way. But you saying them and agreeing with the ideas in your mind and executing them in reality can be a very treacherous transition. They are:
1) Know your employees
2) Grow them
3) Inspire them
4) Involve them
5) Reward them
Knowing them isn't just about saying hello to Bob when you see him. You need to know what makes them tick as a person and what they truly contribute and could contribute to your organization. And considering what your organization can give back to Bob would be a good move, too.
Growing them is about developing them as professionals in both the near and long terms. This way you know what you need to invest, what return you are getting, and both you and the employee share a vision for their future in the company.
Inspiring them provides the means for an emotional connection to the employee's work, their team, the organization, and is best when they feel they are contributing to a vision that they know inspires others and fires up everyone in the organization.
Involving them allows people to use their creativity. You not only don't know everything; you can't. To get strategic advantage from your team, let them teach you. The best companies learn daily from their employees and allow their employees real discretion in their work.
Rewarding them is more than just the dollars and cents of their paycheck and benefits packages. You need to show appreciation and to find fresh ways to keep them engaged. Pay is critical, but by the time it becomes a sore spot you have dropped the ball in many other places.
The writing is not technical and offers many insights from real world companies and their issues. I think you can get some real value from this book and recommend it.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
In order to answer that question, Julie Gebauer and Don Lowman (with Joanne Gordon) completed on a rigorous examination of the 2007-2008 Global Workforce Study ("Closing the Engagement Gap: A Roadmap for Driving Superior Performance") sponsored by their employer, Towers Perrin. This study is based on data generated from two sources: 90,000 employees working full-time for midsize to large organizations in eighteen countries worldwide, and, "the world's largest employee normative database, with data that is updated annually from more than 2 million employees at a range of companies in more than forty companies." Gebauer and Lowman identified the top ten items that drive employee engagement around the world. (Please see Page 13.) Citing statistics somewhat different from Gallup's (i.e. 41% of global workers are enrolled but not yet engaged and 30% are disenchanted), they identify "five actions to convert the enrolled and enlist the disenchanted": Know Them, Grow Them, Inspire Them, Involve Them, and Reward Them. So far, no head-snapping revelations but then Gebauer and Don Lowman zero in companies (the "Engaging Eight") in which a rational-emotional-motivational connection with workers enables them to "willingly and enthusiastically put forth extra time, energy, and brainpower to help their companies compete and succeed." The exemplars are Campbell Soup Company, EMC Corporation, Honeywell International, McKesson Corporation, MGM Grand and Casino, North Shore-Long island Jewish Health System, Novartis AG, and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI).
Throughout the balance of their book, Gebauer and Lowman devote a separate chapter to each of the aforementioned "actions" needed to close the performance gap between between active, productive, and positive people and those who aren't. I think it was a brilliant decision to take that approach rather than devote a separate chapter to each of the "Engaging Eight" because how companies achieve a given objective such as "growing" people varies (sometimes significantly) between and among them. However, profiles of the exemplary companies suggest a wealth of possibilities for results-driven executives to consider. Readers will also appreciate the "Key Acts of Engagement" recommended in Chapter 7 (Pages 236-255) It remains for them to determine how to increase their associates' engagement. In the final chapter, Gebauer and Lowman assert that most organizations "have a ready, willing, and capable reservoir of talent, energy, and dedication. But it's up to them to tap it in meaningful ways. And, as we have shown, direct bosses are critical catalysts of engagement, but without engaging programs and policies set up by the organization - and engaging behaviors from the most visible senior leaders - direct bosses' efforts will fail to deliver full engagement."
My own opinion is that "full engagement" is the ultimate destination of an on-going, never-ending process but seldom (if ever) reached. And even then, it is possible but unlikely that full engagement can be sustained. The point is, and here I completely agree with Gebauer and Lowman, all supervisors must create the conditions that drive engagement, including C-level executives' actions and behavior, learning and development opportunities, and the company's image and reputation. It is no coincidence that many of the companies that appear each year on Fortune magazine's lists of those most highly admired and best to work for also appear each year on the magazine's lists of those most profitable and most valuable.
One of Gebauer and Lowman's concluding points really caught my eye: "Only 1 in 10 of the 88,000 respondents in [the Towers Perrin] Global Workforce Study agreed that their organization's senior leaders treat employees as vital corporate assets." That is an astonishing statistic, one that underlines the importance of trust within a workforce. Fred Reichheld has much of value to say about it, characterized as "organizational glue" in several of his books, notably The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value (2001) with Thomas Teal and Loyalty Rules: How Today's Leaders Build Lasting Relationships (2003). Trust must be earned over time but can easily be lost and seldom regained. Presumably Julie Gebauer and Don Lowman agree with Reichheld that if there is an absence of trust within a workplace, it will be impossible to "unlock employee potential for superior results."