The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni

Last week I finished reading the book (hardcover) The Truth About Employee Engagement: A Fable About Addressing the Three Root Causes of Job Misery by Patrick Lencioni. This is another good business fable from Pat that touches a very fundamental understanding of team dynamics.

In this book the author talks about why people feel misery at job and what needs to be done to increase employee engagement. I hear employee experience as another term that HR teams use a lot which is slightly different than employee engagement. But for this book’s purpose, I took it as Pat was trying to not worry much about the definition and rather focus on the 3 root causes of job misery – lack of measurement, irrelevance and anonymity. He particularly warns us not to confuse bad jobs with miserable jobs while describing these 3 signs.

Lack of measurement (Pat invented the word Immeasurement for it) is the reason that makes an employee unsure about their own contribution to the team effort. This ends up in relying on someone else’s subjective opinion or mood and the lack of self-assessment on success or failure or level of contribution in a daily basis will eventually deteriorate the motivations for work. To overcome this, managers need to show their direct reports how to measure their contributions on their own every day.

Irrelevance is the reason why employees don’t feel if their work is making any meaningful difference to anyone else’s lives. Managers need to work with their employees to show the connection between someone’s work and the impact it makes to the customers, other employees, the industry or their own managers.

Anonymity is the reason for a miserable job when people don’t feel known for their uniqueness. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing. Managers need to take a personal interest in understanding their direct reports, so that people can bring their selves into the work and feel important to their leaders.Patrick came with general guidelines on how to improve on these areas, but the actual implementation will defer case by case or personality types, industry, geography. However, the common theme or philosophy outlined by him should apply to engage employees in their team and company.

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