A collection of articles written over the years by John Guaspari and covering a wide range of topics, including things like employee engagement, customer focus, and Next Big Thing'ism...a bit of satire or two...even the occasional rant. The common thread?  Guaspari's engagingly accessible style.

"WHY EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ISN'T WORKING": FROM STRATEGIC HR REVIEW

Despite all of the engagement projects, programs, initiatives, conferences, publications and battalions of consultants who have emerged to drive up their clients' engagement levels, the return on investment has just not been there in what has become, according to a Bersin by Deloitte report, a $1.5 billion employee engagement market.

This commentary, published in the "Strategic HR Review", offers some explanations for just why that is.

SOME ADVICE ABOUT EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT FROM A LEADER WHO, INDISPUTABLY, GETS RESULTS

Here's a bowdlerized (by the site's editors) version of an article I wrote for The Conference Board's "Human Capital Exchange".  In my version, I made several references to Bill Belichick's sociopathic  tendencies and the bodies I'm sure are buried in the crawl space under his front porch.  They might have saved me from a libel suit, but in the process they made it sound like--yawn--every other article about people management ever written.  Still, an insight or two seems to have survived the editing process.

(If you want to read the version that contained the original grace notes about "Coach Belichick", check out this Musing post from April 23rd.)

 

3 STEPS TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 

Much as I object to trying to reduce complex challenges to neat, tidy "to-do" lists, the publishers of "Playbook" at the American Management Association persuaded me to put aside my objection and write this article.  It may be a rationalization, but I think I was able to pull this off without compromising my principles...at least not too much.

 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT:  INSIDE A SUPER-SECRET SOCIETY OF BUSINESS LEADERS

Ever wonder what happens when business leaders get together to discuss the tough issues?  Not just tough, but so tough that they’re embarrassed to bring them up in front of the people who work with them—or even worse, the people who work for them?

 

THE "TROPHY CULTURE" OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

My latest blog post for The CEO Magazine describes some uncomfortable parallels between how youth sports leagues reward kids for just showing up and too many organizations' approaches to Employee Engagement.

 

A SHINING EXAMPLE

Here's Part 2 of the real-life case study about creating higher levels of Employee Engagement and the benefits that resulted.  For Part 1, read the article immediately below this one:  "We Make People Happy".

 

WE MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY

Part 1 of a real-life case study in how to create higher levels of Employee Engagement (even though it wasn't called Employee Engagement when this article was published).

 

THE NEXT BIG THING:  A "PREPOSTEROUS" IDEA WHOSE TIME MAY HAVE COME

A Swiftian response to the challenge of work/life balance...one that could be (but never will be) "The Next Big Thing".

(Note: when this article was scanned to create the pdf, the sidebars became tough--if not impossible--to read.  Honest: you're not missing much.)

 

DE-HUMANIZING YOUR "HUMAN" RESOURCES

I just posted a new article in my blog at The CEO Magazine.  Here's a summary:

By reducing the Employee Engagement challenge to surveys and project management when it is really more a matter of institutional soulcraft, you run the risk of taking unearned comfort in the illusion of rigor: “This must be valid. There are many numbers, and many of those numbers have several decimal places!” You also run a serious--and ironic--risk of causing them to dis-engage by treating people as resources or capital assets rather than as important contributors to the cause.

 

JOHN'S BLOG IN "THE CEO MAGAZINE"

Beginning on 5/1/15, John will posting a weekly entry in his blog for The CEO Magazine.  You can find all of those postings here.

 

ENGAGEMENT MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU THINK IT IS  

Just posted (4/3/15) on CEO.com.  Its concluding paragraphs:

At this point you might be thinking: “Isn’t this all just a matter of semantics?” As a matter of fact, yes, it is a matter of semantics. But there is no “just” about it. As Mark Twain famously said, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Being clear about what engagement truly means and holding others to that same discipline can make the difference between engagement initiatives that do and do not deliver their expected ROIs. And that, after all, is “a really large matter.”

 

EMPOWERMENT IS NOT A MATTER OF NOBLESSE OBLIGE

A new article,  just published (4/1/15) in HR Executive Online.  It deals with the proposition that empowerment is not something to be pulled out of a bag of motivational goodies like bonuses.  Rather, it is a sense of assuredness that people feel as they do their jobs.

 

THE SOLIPSIST SYNDROME

Ultimately, the reason that businesses are less effective then they'd like to be when it comes to dealing with customers is "solipsism", which can be defined as:  A theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or can be known.

And while this article may be about interacting with customers, the same principles hold true when it comes to interacting with employees.

 

COMING TO GRIPS WITH "THE INTANGIBLES"

A column that appeared in the 3/17/15 edition of "CEO".  Here is the concluding paragraph:

Their category #1 bias inclines leaders toward neat, directive, hospital-cornered approaches to whatever challenges are at hand.  But a desire for tidiness does not constitute proof of the absence of messiness.  The first step in coming to grips with the intangibles is to embrace the fact that they are...intangible.  You might just as well, since you can't embrace the intangibles themselves.

To read the rest, click on the title above.  Or, for that matter, right here.

 

A 40-HOUR WORK WORK: A NEW RALLYING CRY

A short article written quite a while ago that seems to have renewed currency.  It explores the innate tension between efforts to increase employee engagement levels and work/life balance.

 

MAYBE WE NEED A NEW WORD FOR "ENGAGEMENT"

A possible way out of the "dueling definitions" conundrum when it comes to Engagement.  From the 3/2/15 edition of td.org

 

QUALITY DAY AT THE GUASPARIS'

A satirical piece pointing out some of the dangerous pitfalls lurking in front of even the best-intentioned improvement initiatives...and the model for the structure of Otherwise Engaged

 

TO HELL WITH SHARING

A short article--actually more of a rant--taking issue with the way-too-promiscuous use of the verb "to share" in the business world today.

 

WHERE THE GRASS IS BROWN

Through careful observation of others, you can get a good handle on what really matters to them.