This week’s Worst Idea comes from “The VAR Guy” who apparently writes about Value-Added-Reseller matters for the IT industry.  More specifically, it comes from a guest blog written by SAP:  “Culture Shock: Why It’s Important to Keep Employees Happy”.

Now, I know that such a guest blog is little more than an advertorial, and I have no quarrel with a mega-company like SAP wanting to get its message out there by writing such stuff.  But taking advice about culture from a company at the forefront of such uber-rational pursuits as enterprise application software is like taking swimming lessons from a block of granite.  You can work on your stroking and kicking all you want, but at some point gravity is going to prevail.

The headline pretty much gives the game away inasmuch as it refers to the desire “to keep employees happy.”  While this might sound noble, it’s really just narcissism masquerading as generosity of spirit.  It’s also condescending as hell:  “I, the leader, understand the complex challenges to be faced in the successful running of a business or a department.  An important part of my job is to shield the gentle snowflakes in my charge from those harsh realities so that they are content to carry out their charming little responsibilities.”

If that’s your mindset, then the kind of advice offered by The VAR Guy’s guest blogger makes good sense:  “When you marry HCM to analytics in-house, you’ve also got powerful tools to stay on track with key performance indicators—and employees have quick and easy access to results in real-time.”

The single biggest conceptual barrier to achieving higher levels of engagement is the assumption that engagement is something to be “done” by an organization’s leadership by such measures as “marry(ing) HCM to analytics in-house.”

Much as we might like to treat engagement as a project management challenge, it’s fundamentally a matter of soulcraft.  That’s the gravitational pull that will, ultimately, prevail.