The Enemy of Engagement

• By Mark Royal and Tom Agnew
• Amacom
• RRP $35.95

Hay Group researchers Mark Royal and Tom Agnew think workplace frustration is killer organisational disease. They have used the findings from about eight years of research to prove their case.
Hay Group is global business consultancy that has, since 1997, partnered with Fortune magazine in the United States to identify America’s Most Admired Companies. Work undertaken in that study contributed to these two researchers’ appreciation of just how crippling workplace frustration can be.
They call it “silent epidemic” that creeps through every organisation. It is, they argue, rarely confronted or even recognised. Consequently, even the most motivated and dedicated individuals get worn down battling it.
What causes workplace frustration? Organisational obstacles that prevent even the most committed employees from doing their job, say the authors. The book is therefore designed to identify this “root cause of frustration” and provide advice on how to grapple with it. “What’s needed are informed, targeted management practices that enable employees to do their jobs.”
Specifically, it identifies the organisational priorities needed to get employees focusing on high value tasks, then suggests teamwork approaches to help cope with work demands; training, development and empowerment opportunities to build the skills and authority employees need to get the job done; and some tools, information and other resources they need to work efficiently and effectively.
The book is timely for New Zealand readers because of the current preoccupation with lifting our laggardly productivity performance. “Having highly engaged and enabled employees leads to dramatically better productivity, improved financial results and more loyal customers,” suggest the authors.
The book is strongly research-based but it’s accessible and interesting. It also touches on topics like the role of managers versus leaders, work-life balance and host of other contemporary management and performance-related issues.
Its argument is logical and compelling. Its fictionalised case study approach fused with thorough research and sound reasoning make it eminently useable. Royal and Agnew’s conclusion that only engaged employees can deliver high performance makes sense. That far too many organisations, wittingly or otherwise, create barriers over which employees must stumble to accomplish that for which they turn up to do each day seems nonsensical but has that ring of authenticity about it. – Reg Birchfield

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