We Don’t Care What you have to Say, Piano Man. Shut up and Sing.
Billy Joel in concert.
I was asked to spice up a rough manuscript by leadership consultant Keith Ayers and, upon reading a few chapters, I knew the problem — no personality. Literally. There were instructions, and they were, indeed, insightful. But there were no anecdotes. No personal stories. No colorful, visceral and immediate metaphors. Nothing that really connected him to the audience. So, through the course of a month, I spent a hour each morning speaking to Keith — he’s Australian, and was in Australia — and I solicited him to tell more personal stories. It worked out.
Imagine that during a routine check-up with your doctor, he diagnoses you with a melanoma. The doctor’s prognosis certainly requires more testing, but your concern is immediate.
You find yourself in a sterile office wearing nothing but a blue paper robe, suddenly peppering him with questions about your future: How serious is it, Doc? Is there anything more I should know? What do I do next? Can I be cured? Once you regain your composure and listen to the good doctor’s advice, you are determined to make every effort to beat the cancer. Seems reasonable, right? After all, it’s a matter of your life and death.
Now, what if I told you there is a cancer in your workplace with potentially devastating effects to your organization? That “cancer” is called employee disengagement and, if left untreated, will erode your organization the same way cancer erodes a patient’s body. Customer satisfaction, employee retention, productivity, and profitability are all being compromised until you get it under control.
Beating this “cancer” of disengagement must be taken seriously by every leader in your organization. It is a leadership issue. The Gallup Organization has performed ongoing research on employee engagement for over a decade now and has identified three types of employees: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Actively Disengaged. In their book Follow This Path, Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina, Ph.D. report the average employee engagement figures for the United States: 30 percent Engaged, 54 percent Not Engaged, and 16 percent Actively Disengaged.
The problem is very real. The numbers don’t lie. One of the least obvious but most significant costs of this cancer is the percentage of payroll that is wasted on disengaged employees.
“A special thank you to Paige Stover Hague and her team at The Ictus Initiative, in particular
Carolyn McKibbin and Ben Berzai, without whose help this book would not be complete.”
“Lack of employee engagement is like a cancer, eating away at your organization’s vital organs. It saps your organization’s strength, directly affecting your organization’s ability to achieve the levels of customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability you know you could achieve. Keith Ayers presents a compelling argument that the focus on engagement has failed because leaders think engagement can be bought through bonuses, benefits, and share options. That is like trying to cure cancer with an aspirin or band-aid. The cure for the cancer of disengagement is for leaders to look in the mirror at the leadership they provide. In this in-depth exploration of the leadership skills needed to get every employee to want to perform at their best, Ayers challenges leaders to stop focusing on engagement, and set their sights on igniting the fire of passion in their employees.”