Blogs

Jo Geraghty

Director

Two sides to every story

Date added: 08th Oct 2014
Category: Employee Engagement

There will always be relationship breakdowns even in the most carefully managed organisations. People move on in their lives and the perfect match of yesterday is not necessarily the optimum partnership tomorrow. But that doesn’t excuse not trying, not asking the questions, not having the dialogue, not sharing the vision. Employee engagement is a game-changing business driver and those who ignore it have no place in management.

It’s always sad when a relationship breaks down; when a partnership that started so full of promise and excitement descends into something far more destructive.  It is said that there are two sides to every story but when that story doesn’t result in a ‘happy ever after’ ending then family, friends, co-workers and the wider world can be drawn into the mix.

We tend to think of break-ups more in terms of personal relationships, but two events recently have drawn stark attention to the way in which working relationships can also descend into bitterness.  First off is the launch of Kevin Petersen’s autobiography.  Undoubtedly an outstanding cricketing talent, Kevin Petersen is one of those players who tend to polarise opinion and the reaction to the launch of his book has only served to highlight those differing opinions.  For example, whilst a Telegraph article on the book comments that “this is a man demonstrably traumatised by the loss of his England career,” a Guradian headline calls the book “the most comprehensive act of bridge burning since William Holden parachuted into the River Kwai.”

On a similar vein, a former Reddit employee posted comments on that site to the effect that he was “laid off” for “officially, no reason” and suggesting that his departure may have been the result of his criticising a charity donation policy adding “some management likes getting feedback, some doesn’t.”  It is perhaps more normal for such comments to be ignored but in this case Reddit CEO, Yishan Wong, broke with tradition by posting a response.  In it he said that “feedback and criticism, even troublemaking, are things that we actively tolerate (encourage, even) – but above all you need to get your work done, and you did not even come close to doing that.”

Whilst these are two fairly public examples of a breakdown in working relationships they are only the public tip of an undercurrent which affects businesses across the globe.  Numerous studies have shown a correlation between employee engagement and profitability but levels of engagement generally are well below optimum.  Perhaps more worryingly still is the way in which some employers treat employee engagement as a tick box exercise.

Before we go on, let us make it clear that we are in no way suggesting that attention to engagement and feedback was lacking in the two examples given above.  On the contrary, the reports which we have seen indicate that meetings and feedback were intrinsic elements of the working relationship.  But that is not the case in many organisations.  In fact a recent survey by officevibe reveals that 27% of managers never reviewed survey results and that 52% of managers reviewed results but took no action.

When managers have so little regard for employees or engagement then, to be blunt, they have little regard for the business.  Engaged employees:

  • Deliver profits
  • Deliver strong reputation
  • Deliver outstanding customer care

Treating engagement as a tick-box exercise or ignoring it completely is tantamount to saying that you care little or nothing for profits, reputation or customer service.  It harks back to the days of treating employees as costs and customers as cash-generators.  Quite simply it has no place in business today.

There will always be relationship breakdowns even in the most carefully managed organisations.  People move on in their lives and the perfect match of yesterday is not necessarily the optimum partnership tomorrow.  But that doesn’t excuse not trying, not asking the questions, not having the dialogue, not sharing the vision.  Employee engagement is a game-changing business driver and those who ignore it have no place in management.

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