Tim: We asked a survey question of 60 different organizations about five years ago. We asked them who is primarily responsible for employee engagement; is it the organization or is it the employee, and we were very surprised at the response that we got to that question. 60% of the employees or/and the leaders that we surveyed said it’s the employee, but 40% said it was the employer or the organization, and so with that divide we said now wait a second; this is a very important question and people are certainly not in agreement about the answer to this question, and so on the basis of that response we said we’ve got to dig into this, we’ve got to figure out what’s going on and why people have such different points of view. So, we went forward and we studied 150 highly engaged employees across 50 different organizations and I guess, David, the thing that stands out the most is that to a person these what we call engagement outliers, these individuals have a point of view that says I own my own engagement, I am primarily responsible for it, the organization has a secondary and a support role to play, but the primarily responsibility is mine. So, that would be the fundamental perspective and point of view of these people that we study, these engagement outliers. I think that’s a significant finding.
After reading the above paragraph you can see where Tim is headed with his research, and that's the first time I've read any employee engagment subject matter with that approach. I find it to be very eye opening to what an organization can and cannot accomplish with its efforts to increase employee engagement. We think as an organization that if managers do A and then B plus throw in some C and D that we will have an engaged workforce except for the few people that refuse. And that's the key that Tim Clark has written about, the refusal of all or any employees to be engaged. Some don't want to be engaged, their work is a paycheck not a career with a passion for growing in the industry. I think that's hard to accept for an employer. In the excerpt below Tim describes a workplace with employee support but without highly engaged employees.
I’m like anybody else; I think the nature of the work itself is perhaps the most important driver, and then I recognize, you know, and I try to do this in my own life, and that is to take the point of view that I’m responsible and that I’m not going to wait expectantly for the organization to engage me. You know one of the interesting things that we’ve found, David, in our research is that you can have a benevolent organization, you can have an organization that practices what we call fanatical employee support that does all kinds of things to help the employee in terms of resources, and guidance, and direction, and yet that employee can still be disengaged, and so that’s a very important thing to understand. We use the concept or we actually created a name for that – we call it happy dead weight, meaning that employees can be content and yet not engaged at the same time, so clearly it demonstrates that in spite of all that the organization can do, it cannot give you engagement; it’s not something you can give someone. They have to do that on their own, that’s a personal choice. Of course what the employer or the organization does to support you matters very much, but ultimately that’s a personal choice.
Happy Dead Weight, I guess thats better than angry dead weight but not by much. Then the interview turns toward highly engaged employees and what that brings to the organization.
David Zinger: Because you found people could engage in all kinds of different kinds of work and all kinds of different circumstances, and so if we look at those characteristics of highly engaged employees they tend not to be entitled, they’re engaging with their customers, and they remain highly engaged almost anywhere was one of your statements. [07:47]
Timothy Clark: Yeah, it’s really true. David, what we’ve found is that you could take a highly engaged person that had this point of view and you could parachute them in to about any organization and regardless of conditions they would remain highly engaged almost anywhere, and so what that said to us, what that taught us is that highly engaged people who take responsibility for it, they are incredibly agnostic to context.
Also he continues on with the 6 attributes of highly engaged employees and those are: connecting, shaping, learning, stretching, acheiving, and contributing. I'm not going to describe those here, please go to the interview to listen to those remarks, David Zinger Interview with Tim Clark . What I pulled away from this interview was that we aren't going to change anyone that doesn't want their job to be more than a paycheck, however we can add interview questions around those 6 characteristics of highly engaged employees to increase our productivity and engagement. I can also take this info and more from Tim's book, after I read it, and communicate to the workforce as an understanding of knowing what level of engagement the employees are at and accepting that however, in your current position you are at times expected to stretch beyond your current level of work, you are expected to be self-directed in learning and you are expected to be shaped in approaching your job duties. I'll see if I feel the same way after I read the book, I might have a different view that will actually work!