A Widely Held—and False—Distinction

First, a brief excerpt from Otherwise Engaged:

The guest speaker near the end of the program’s third and final day was Jeff, an executive who had just completed a two-year tour of duty as the aide-de-camp to Wayne, the company’s CEO.., 

Toward the end of his presentation, Jeff posed the following question:  “What percentage of Wayne’s time would you estimate he devotes to ‘the people stuff’?”

The answers were clustered in the 15-20 percent range.  Jeff nodded, assuring all that their guesses were perfectly reasonable before hitting them with his punchline:  “On a typical day, Wayne spends 50-60 percent of his time on people matters.  That leaves him with just 40-50 percent of his time to focus on the business.”

See the problem?  The implication that time spent on the people stuff is not time spent “on the business”?

This is the same turn of mind that sees engagement as items on a list of things one does between 2:00 and 4:00 every other Tuesday afternoon as opposed to a state of mind in which employees exist—or do not exist—at all times while on the job.

Recognizing and doing away with this false and harmful distinction will in and of itself represent and great big gob of progress on the engagement front.