Zinger’s Employee Engagement Rant (Part 1)


Part 1: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

I’m angry, even a bit ticked off.  If you read my blogs you know that I seldom if ever rant. But I am ticked off at all the measurement of employee engagement where employees tick off measurement boxes in private, an outside company collates all the measurement, and the organization receives general results and recommendations from someone not directly involved in the organization’s engagement.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not against measurement I just don’t believe that anonymous and confidential surveys really address or respond to employee engagement.

Too often the central issues in measuring employee engagement seems research and statistical centered: private, confidential, reliable, valid, and with statistical significance. After much cost, and use of employees’ precious time, impressive numbers are generated and the lofty conclusion: more research is required.

Yet in a recent meta-analysis by the Conference Board – the central conclusion in study after study that involved millions of employees around the world, was that it was the employee’s relationship with their direct leader that was the single biggest driver of employee engagement.

If we know that, why do we persist in these large scale anonymous studies? How does it help to get a measurement of overall organizational engagement without employees talking directly with each other and their leaders?

Couragous Measurement

I advocate a new measurement method in employee engagement: courageous measurement. In courageous measurement leaders and employees work together, the results are transparent, and everyone is accountable for improving engagement – employees, leaders, and the organization.  Employees have the courage to genuinely rate and voice how engaged they are, leaders have the courage to do this for themselves, and leaders are courageous to hear what is said followed by the gumption to make changes to enhance engagement.

In Part 2 of my rant, I will offer a connected and genuine response to measurement that naturally leads to intervention and action. What good is a rant without an equally relevant response that addresses the nature of the rant?


Get Engaged:

  1. If you are a leader, sit down with employees and discuss their engagement. Keep doing this again and again.
  2. When you encounter someone who is disengaged collaborate with them to rekindle their engagement. If engagement can’t be rekindled determine what changes need to occur.
  3. In Part 2 of this rant, I will provide a link to a down-to-earth assessment that can be used as the springboard to conversation and employee engagement conversion.

8 responses to “Zinger’s Employee Engagement Rant (Part 1)

  1. Hello, David,

    Well, a good, well-deserved rant (or two) is good for the soul. And yours is particularly well-placed.

    Just had a talk this week with an exec that is looking to do a broad-based survey. My advice: don’t spend and waste the money.

    The heart of the engagement issues will be quickly surfaced by face-to-face conversations. We can show the managers how to do that and how to follow through. I know that seems simplistic to some readers–but lots of experience tells me that good things happen face-to-face; nothing happens as the result of a survey until you go back and talk to the people who did the survey. Duh.

    Wow. I think I am starting a “comment rant.”

    I send you much encouragement to continue down this path and will look for “Son of Rant” soon.

    All the best,


  2. Steve:

    I appreciate your line about the “heart of engagement.” Can we put our hearts into engagement and engagement into our hearts.

    I also agree that in some ways this is so simple…face to face, heart to heart. Conversation is so important. It seems to me that when it comes to people that often approaches that are simple and eloquent are the most powerful.

    I believe many managers are running with so many tasks they need some guidance on this and some encouragement. Also some caution not merely think of relationships as another task.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and the “Son of Rant” will be coming to a blog near you next week.


  3. Hi David,

    I agree. I’ve seen great engagement develop when the whole team is put in charge of engagement, and really crappy results when the group’s executive simply reads survey results and tells the team what to do.


  4. Cheri,

    If you read and tell, especially as an executive, then you could be seen as lacking in your own engagement.

    Good point Cheri.


  5. Good rant.

    Courage is the key word David. Or maybe it’s ‘inexperience’.

    Leaders don’t talk to their people because they’re afraid of what they’re going to hear. And they’re afraid it’s going to cost them more money.

    It takes courage to ask the hard questions. It takes experience to know that’s the only way real answers are found.

    It takes both to answer the questions that come back at you and make it a truly engaging conversation.

  6. Shane,

    I believe your linking courage, conversation, and engagement is well said.

    I love the line about “courage to ask hard questions and experience to know that’s the only way real answers are found.”

    It does not surprise me that you write well after visiting your site Zoomstart.com. The site is insightful, crisp, and clear.

    I encourage people to visit your site to appreciate the beauty of the layout and the breadth of your writing. I put it in my bloglines right away.

    Well done,


  7. David,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by. If people like reading Zoomstart half as much as I enjoy writing it, that’s huge.

    You’ve got a great collection of categories here. I’m looking forward to rumaging through the archives.

  8. they’ll have you suicidal,suicida. Nurit Hailey.

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