Posted by: healingtheworkplace | February 9, 2013

Time to Rethink Employee Engagement?

Hi there, today I want to revisit the discussion about employee engagement.

We know that engaged employees are important to an organization’s success. The Gallup organization has been studying this topic worldwide for many years. Gallup has found that employee disengagement is a huge problem especially in North America.

Today it is hard to find an organization that has not heard of the Gallop 12 questions. “These 12 questions measure the 12 key employee expectations that, when satisfied, form the foundation of strong feelings of engagement.”

But the survey is just the beginning on the road to engagement. The key to success is a realistic action plan that is based on the results of the survey. Even more important –both managers/leaders and employees work together to make improvements at the team level.

But things seem to be getting worse not better on the employee engagement front, at least in America and I’m sure that Canada is in a similar situation. I came across the following quote by Carmine Gallo in a November 11, 2011 article in

I was shocked to see a new Gallup survey show that 71 percent of workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their work. I checked several sources including Gallup’s own web site because I was sure it had to be a typo. Seventy-one percent of employees are not engaged in their work? No wonder customer service is the pits. Employees simply don’t care!

71% of employees are disengaged! Should we be surprised?

Maybe it is time to rethink employee engagement!

What if we reframed the problem? Instead of saying that employees simply don’t care, what if we said that this is really about the sharing of leadership and power?

This is exactly what Canadian writer Mitch McCrimmon proposes in his 4 Levels of Employee Engagement. Level 4 of McCrimmon’s model is about “bottom up leadership”. Traditionally managers/leaders are the only ones rewarded for being proactive and coming up with new ideas.

According to McCrimmon, “the best solution generators get rewarded with the highest salaries.”

But, in today’s complex organizations managers/leader don’t always know the answers and must engage all employees in problem solving, idea-generating, and innovating. These leaders must admit that they don’t have all the answers and they must be willing to listen and accept the ideas of others. And this is where the problem lies.

I’ll let McCrimmon have the final word, “The challenge for executives, if they want to achieve such a passionate level of employee engagement, is to relinquish their monopoly on leadership. They need the humility and EQ to shift their identity to one where they call themselves executives who only occasionally show leadership. Making such a major mind shift requires executives to put aside their own ego needs and see the potential for employee engagement of sharing the leadership load.

Enjoy your weekend!



  1. These assumptions are artifacts of the old employee engagement approach – the one that strives to create a magical workplace where there are no challenges to overcome and everyone is happy. It is time we admit it – this just isn’t working.

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