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(Act) Like You Know — September 13, 2018

Book Review – The Truth About Employee Engagement

What is it about?

The Truth About Employee Engagement is a surprisingly quick-read and would qualify as a page-turner in my opinion given the genre. Instead of your typical self-help book, it is a “fable” that follows the story of Brian Bailey. Brian retires as CEO after successfully building up a fitness company and selling the business. He moves to Tahoe to enjoy the good life but soon finds he was made to manage people and can’t stay “on-the-sidelines” for more than a few months. His friends and family are shocked when he decides to re-enter the game by becoming the weekend manager and part-owner of a little, Italian restaurant in need of some big help. The restaurant and it’s rag-tag group of employees affords Brian the opportunity to prove his management theory is no fluke. His friends, family, and new co-owner are skeptical and pessimistic about his prospects of success given how tough the restaurant industry can be. With nothing to lose, Brian’s experiment plays out among this unlikely cast of characters.

What’s the main message?

Brian’s management theory is to address, what he believes, are the three main causes of job misery:

  • Anonymity
  • Irrelevance
  • Immeasurable

Anonymity: People are miserable at work when they feel that nobody knows or understands them as individuals. People want to be known. Even the weird stuff, like how you sleep on Star Wars sheets, even though you are a 47 year old man. Genuine connections at a personal level are very important to an enjoyable work experience.

Irrelevance: A miserable job is one where people feel they are not needed. They need to know they are helping others and that their job is valuable.

Immeasurable: This is a word created to describe the lack of clarity on whether people are progressing or succeeding in their jobs. People need to know if they’re doing well. Their job performance must be measured in such a way that their behavior has a direct and objective influence on the measurements; not based on a subjective assessment by another. As it turns out, tech nerds aren’t the only ones who like quantifiable results and positive outcomes. Everyone does.

What are the take-a-ways?

It shouldn’t come as a shocker that these principles turned around the ragged and failing Italian restaurant and, just as important, the lives of its employees. But the real suspense is in asking yourself, what about my workplace? Am I surrounded by people who work with passion and commitment knowing that their work is valuable and makes a difference in other people’s lives? Thankfully, my personal reply would be YES! While the exact words aren’t tossed around verbatim, the main ideas are certainly part of the company culture here at Sketchfolio.

But even when the culture is already in place, it’s not automatic and doesn’t run on auto-pilot. It’s up to each individual to buy-in and participate otherwise the culture could atrophy into something less healthy and strong. Connecting and being part of a culture in the office setting improves productivity, creativity, quality of life. Besides, everyone knows connection bonds the human soul to one another every Friday on “wear your Hawaiian shirt” day. In closing, The Truth About Employee Engagement is a great reminder to stay engaged in your role, with your team members, and in maintaining a healthy company culture.

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