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The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration--and Get the Most from Your Employees Hardcover – October 28, 2011
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There are a lot of frustrated people in most workplaces today. We’re not talking about the incorrigible office grump or the permanent slacker. Instead, we’re referring to dedicated workers who are being prevented from achieving their peak potential by organizational obstacles. Better enabling these employees to succeed represents an untapped avenue for radically improving productivity.
Packed with the latest research findings from the prestigious Hay Group, The Enemy of Engagement uncovers the hidden impediments to performance—excessive procedures, lack of resources, overly narrow roles, and more—and outlines best-practice solutions for eliminating them. This is not an insignificant issue facing businesses today. According to Hay Group’s study, depending on the industry, between one-third and one-half of employees report work conditions that keep them from being as productive as they could be.
The Enemy of Engagement gives managers powerful new insights and research-based tools for ensuring their teams are both willing and able to make maximum contributions.
From the Inside Flap
There are a lot of frustrated people in the workforce today. We’re not talking about the incorrigible office grump or the permanently unmotivated slacker. We’re referring to dedicated and valued workers who are prevented from achieving their potential by organizational obstacles.
Workplace frustration is a silent epidemic creeping through every organization—but one rarely confronted or even recognized. Frustration wears down motivated, dedicated employees who really care about their jobs but can’t get the support they need to work effectively. Focused on making contributions, they are often loath to complain or make waves, leaving managers in the dark about what’s really going on.
The Enemy of Engagement analyzes workplace frustration in detail and pinpoints solutions. Based on original research conducted by the prestigious Hay Group, the book uncovers the fact that the organizational barriers that are the root cause of frustration can’t be fixed with splashier leadership or more engaged employees. What’s needed are informed, targeted management practices that enable employees to do their jobs. Packed with new findings, a lively case study, and self-assessments, The Enemy of Engagement explains how to:
• Provide clear direction about organizational priorities to help people focus on the highest-value tasks
• Encourage superior levels of teamwork both within and across business units to help everyone cope with work demands
• Support training, development, and empowerment opportunities to ensure that employees have the skills and authority to get the job done
• Provide the tools, information, and other resources employees need to work efficiently and effectively
Having highly engaged and enabled employees leads to dramatically better productivity, improved financial results, and more loyal customers. The Enemy of Engagement gives managers powerful new insights and research-based tools for ensuring their teams are both willing and able to make maximum contributions.
MARK ROYAL and TOM AGNEW are leaders in Hay Group’s employee research division. Their client consulting work focuses on helping organizations leverage employee input to increase employee engagement and effectiveness, manage change more successfully, and enhance customer satisfaction and business performance. Mark holds Ph.D. and MA degrees in sociology from Stanford University, and Tom received his Ph.D. in management from Vanderbilt University and MBA from the University of Saskatchewan. Mark is based in Chicago and Tom in New York City.
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Mark Royal and Tom Agnew have written a very engaging book The Enemy of Engagement. Mark and Tom are leaders in the Hay Group's employee research division and have drawn on their vast experience to present a compelling case for what employers must do in addition to getting employees fully engaged.
The most often case is where employees are fully engaged, they like their work and their employer but are frustrated in trying to do their job. They lack adequate training, are held back by inefficient processes, are unclear about the key tasks to accomplish or are uncertain they have the authority to do/change certain things. In short, far too many employees are frustrated in trying to do their job and management is totally unaware of or turning a blind eye to their frustration.
Frustration will eventually lead to employees seeking other employment or disengaging - becoming compliant. Neither will give the company the results it wants or needs.
The book is well written and has a unique approach to getting the message across. The authors alternate with theory and a fictional case study. The case study actually brings the concepts to life. It shows in no uncertain terms what happens when employees are frustrated. They leave, they disengage and the company suffers.
One of the major culprits of frustration is poor communication. While most companies think they are communicating, one way conversations are simply not enough. Management must learn to listen to the frustration of the workers. Most workers want to do a good job. As humans most are hard wired to seek mastery of what we do. But when we are lacking the tools necessary, frustration sets in and eventually we give up.
The alternative theory chapters gives a good discussion of the principles involved in identifying and solving frustrations facing employees. There are some very specific questions managers need to ask themselves in order to combat the enemy of engagement.
You may believe that all your employees are fully engaged and this could not happen in your office/workplace. But from the examples in the book and the real world experiences the authors talk about, frustrated employees are more the rule than the exception.
This should be on the reading list of all managers. There is some very valuable information which will improve employee engagement by eliminating or reducing employee frustration.
Royal and Agnew have written a business narrative during which fictional characters address real-world issues. The co-authors (1) introduce the concept of workplace frustration, (2) differentiate employee engagement (helping employees to motivate themselves to succeed) from employee enablement (developing their ability to perform effectively), (3) explain the nature and potential impact of "tenure effect," (4) introduce a systematic review of root causes of workplace frustration and identify "key aspects of the work environment that should be focus areas for managers in understanding current enablement levels within their teams," (5) then shift their attention to strategies for minimizing workplace frustration, and in the final chapters, and (6) discuss the role of managers as "organizational change agents."
What sets this book apart from other recently published books on the problems of employee engagement and how to solve them is Royal and Agnew's focus on employees who were once actively and productively engaged and have either become passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively disengaged and, in some instances, perhaps even hostile and toxic. During exit interviews of highly-valued employees before they depart to work elsewhere, they express frustration with working conditions (especially those who supervise them) that prevent them from personal growth and/or professional development.
These are among the subjects that Royal and Agnew examine:
o Why "top performers or potential high performers" leave
o Cross-industry concerns about supportiveness of work environment
o Why high levels of engagement do not necessarily result in peak performance
o A leader's primary responsibilities
o A manager's primary responsibilities
o How most admired companies use enablement in strategy execution
o "Realistic" job previews and onboarding
o Self-Assessment for Managers: to identify enablement opportunities
o What drives employee enablement
o Self Assessment for Managers: empowerment, provision of support resources, teamwork coordination
In 1924, then chairman and CEO of 3M, William L. McKnight, observed, "If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need." Mark Royal and Tom Agnew agree, adding that employees also need leaders and managers who make performance expectations crystal, explain how each individual's efforts help to achieve the strategic goals of the given enterprise, and provide support and encouragement that empower them, thereby enable them, to succeed.