Engagement is Not Enough:
You Need Passionate Employees to Achieve Your Dream
Keith E. Ayers
Elevate, July 2008
Employee engagement has been a buzz term in corporate America for over a decade, fed by Gallup Organization research that reports only 30 percent of American workers as being "engaged" in their jobs. The rest are either "not engaged"-instant messaging their friends, downloading music, or surfing the Internet-or, worse still, "actively disengaged." The 16 percent in the "actively disengaged" category spend more time disrupting others, and spreading bad energy than they do on their actual job.
In Engagement is Not Enough, Keith Ayers critiques the corporate world's inadequate response to the "engagement" question (engagement levels have been stagnant over the last decade) and offers a concise and cogent blueprint for managers and executives to take responsibility for bringing passion and enthusiasm to a group of bored and listless employees.
The first mistake leaders make, according to Ayers, is to see employee engagement as a numbers game. Most businesses ramp up incentive schemes in anticipation of a corresponding rise in engagement levels. His argument, presented in his inimitably methodical style, is that the problem lies in organization culture, and therefore a solution cannot be bought with bonuses, holidays, outings, and t-shirts.
Engagement is Not Enough is essentially a how-to guide for managers and executives who have recognized that most of their employees would rather be somewhere else, but have no idea how to change the mindset. Ayers walks the reader through the practical steps required in order to bring passion to the workforce. His challenge to the reader: it starts with you, buddy.
When I first picked up the book, I expected yet another collection of business-book sound bites. From the first page, this book proved me wrong. It is easy to read and enlightening in equal measure. Keith Ayers demonstrates considerable focus in his treatment of this notoriously tricky topic. His style is authoritative and reader-friendly, his voice supportive rather than hectoring. This book is consistently effective in its simplicity: sound actionable strategies, hammered home through straightforward advice.
Throughout the text, Ayers holds leaders accountable for the behavior of their employees. He expects them to lead by example and considers self-awareness and self-criticism to be the cornerstones of effective leadership-an indispensable tool in the pursuit of passionate employees.
Although the concepts in this book are firmly in the business category, Ayers succeeds in holding the reader's attention by admirably eschewing the kind of business jargon that tends to infect most books on leadership. While his conclusions may not be especially groundbreaking-those looking for Harvard business school-style analysis may need to look elsewhere- his arguments are sharp and cogent, and his action plan is clear and well thought out: right on the money for most senior executives.