Tuesday 13 November 2012

#E4S Nailed! – now what?


E4S report cover   So I said I’d come back to you on the new report produced for Engage for Success, titled ‘The Evidence’.  And, errm, well, I sort of wish I hadn’t.  I’m proud to be part of this movement and want to support it.  However I’m not wowed by the report.

It’s not that I’m not pleased to see it produced – I am.  And it’s not that I don’t think it’ll be useful – I do (I’ll certainly keep it close at hand when I’m presenting on engagement as it’s got pretty much all – and quite possibly absolutely all - of the research I might want to refer to there in one place).

It’s just that I don’t think it’ll do that much to boost engagement.  For me, doing this has to be about engagement.  I mean we need to engage people (CEOs, some HR people, a lot of line managers) about why they need to engage their people.

To me, the report is just too dry to do that – starting with what must be pretty much the least inspirational report cover in history and followed up by stat after stat after stat.

So I will say that the report does what it says on the tin - or the cover - very well.  It nails the evidence.  Engagement works – that’s totally clear now if it wasn’t so before.

But to me, the approach a bit like thinking that if one soldier firing a gun at your head maybe isn’t going to kill you, then it’ll be better to have a firing squad of 100 soldiers – then you’ll really be dead.  But are you really going to be any more dead than you would after the one single shot?

So I’m certainly not going to sit here and attempt to summarise or even provide some nuggets from the report – a blog post isn’t the place to do this.

Of course, I might be wrong (it does happen!).  I’m already convinced about engagement (my issues about the concept are pretty minor and I truly do support the movement, if less so the report).  But if I wasn’t already convinced, perhaps this would do it for me.

And perhaps not.  But that’s largely just down to the fact that I’m not that into measurement (and therefore evidence) in the HR / people management space (unless the measures tell a story and if you want to tell a story, do you really need measurement to do it?).  However a lot of people - possibly even more people in HR than in other areas of the business? - suggest they are all about measures.

So perhaps others – and perhaps you? - will find the conclusions have more of an impact than they do for me…

Do let me know if so!

To be continued…


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  1. It's worth bearing in mind this report is targeted at those who are likely to be interested in and swayed by the "right brain" stuff - data, numbers etc. It's designed for the CFO wondering whether to invest in things that will help engagement, the small business owner wondering whether it's worth dedicating their limited time and resource to. With that in mind, I think it's a good analysis and summary of all the data that's out there.

    What it's never going to be - but was never designed to be - is the rallying call which will truly inspire people to go out and do things differently, which leads to staff being more engaged. That's what things like the film http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xqO3sfRZDAE are designed to do.

    No one piece of content is going to address the issue, each has their part to play.

  2. I think you're right Jon, if this was a standalone document designed to win over hearts and minds in isolation. But it's not, it's the evidence only and comes as part of a massive suite of comms (face to face, digital, print, events, PR) designed to engage audiences across the piece on emotional and rational levels. It's mere existence is likely to win over doubters as it's wielded as proof - admittedly unlikely to be read from cover to cover! And as for the cover, yes it's uninspiring but maybe that's the point - a weighty, academic tome with gravitas rather than an emotional marketing piece.

  3. Cheers Nick, agreed, and as I wrote, it does what it says on the tin - it nails the evidence.

    But I do still wonder whether it's going to play the part it's designed to fulfill - eg the small business owner is probably going to think it's mainly targeted at big businesses (particularly given the case studies). And the right brained CFO is potentially going to learn the wrong lesson ie that they need to make people feel engaged (that's the focus of my next blog post on this...).

    Anyway, thanks for your comment and I hope you don't think I'm acting as saboteur - I love what E4S is doing, and am still excited to be part of it, even if I'd have preferred some of it to have been done in a slightly different way.

  4. The movement needs critical friends (as Doug Shaw describes himself) - that's how it gains momentum! Bring on the constructive debate and "Engaged!" The Movie, that's what I say :)

  5. Thanks again Nick, and thanks Jo - and yes, I agree that the movement as a whole is much more impressive than the report - which is why I'm so pleased to be part of it. It's also where I'd define myself slightly differently from Doug - I'm not a friend of the movement, I'm part of the movement. So I do feel that perhaps I'm showing less ownership of this particular product than I should. My excuse is that I think this is part of the way that engagement itself is changing - that we can't expect people just to support our companies, just because we want them to, anymore. I do feel fully engaged in what the movement is doing, but perhaps this is of the new, vs the old, type of engagement? Anyway, thank you both for your comments, and hope you'll come back and check out my next few posts on engagement over the following days - I'm certainly having fun with the one going out tomorrow and hope you'll enjoy it too!

  6. Nick - you are right that is how I sometimes describe myself in relation to #E4S, in that capacity I think it is important to challenge ourselves often.

    Jon, I don't think being a critical friend and a member are mutually exclusive.

    Cheers - DOug

  7. Hi jon, as someone said above it was never meant to be the one thing, it was meant to be something that you can stand up and show to the doubters, the people who really don't believe this works. At the first meeting of the group it was clear this was what was needed..... I gave an anecdote about presenting this promotion of engagement stuff to the NHS, and someone on the graduate programme said, 'time is money and this isn't going to generate any money, but use plenty of time' This is designed to show them that it does generate money, and that HR1.0 which they had learnt alot of at uni, simply doesnt do it anymore.

  8. Cheers Doug, cheers Phil - yep, don't disagree (but still think it was written in a very 1.0 sort of way)


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