When Change is Cosmetic
It is hard to comprehend that with all the incredible effort to more effectively engage employees over the past 25 years, according to Gallup data, we as leaders have failed miserably. The numbers today are hovering around 30 percent engaged, 50 percent disengaged and 20 percent disengaged. And if anything engagement has slightly declined over the years regardless of all the efforts to creating higher performing organizations.
As a result, it seems easy to assume that these numbers reflect the authentic nature of humans in the workplace, but two facts dispute that assumption.
FACT ONE: There are some organizations that achieve significantly higher levels of engagement, and according to Gallup, and they enjoy statistically greater profitability, higher customer satisfaction and better quality products and services.
Among the sincere efforts to engage employees are such powerful methods as lean, Kaizen, and Six Sigma. Sure they can effectively fix broken processes, but they don’t change the way of thinking in a systemic way. Yet, these efforts, treated as programs, rarely survive long term unless by sheer force of will.
Insincere efforts such as communications campaigns and suggestion boxes are truly cosmetic, and are nothing more than hope that if we wish for change hard enough it will happen.
You can lather on makeup to try and improve things – and it may work for a while – but real engagement demands a different system of management. It requires rethinking HOW we run the organization. And, it requires managers do a lot of work reengineering their management process.