I DISMAY

The word “engagement” is now being used so promiscuously that it’s becoming (has become?) part of the institutional wallpaper.  It will be there, it will be real, but nobody will really notice it any more.

There’s a chapter in Otherwise Engaged that spends a bit of time arguing that a version of Gresham’s Law might apply in the world of employee engagement, that the bad usage of those words is driving out the good usage.

I now fear that it’s too late, that Gresham’s Law has prevailed.  If you want proof, set up a Google Alert for the words “employee engagement.”  Each day you’ll receive an email with a long list of articles purportedly on that topic that have been published over the previous 24 hours.  But when you go in and read them, you discover that the bar for engagement has now been set very low.  Leaders no longer convene staff meetings; they instead block off Team Engagement Quality Time on their calendars.  John no longer hands a paper clip to Mary; he instead Facilitates the Transfer of Page-Engagement Technology.  And so on.

I dismay.  But in an attempt to spit into the ever stronger winds, I would urge you to stay true to the true nature of engagement—creating an environment in which people are more likely to want to become more emotionally and psychologically invested in the tasks at hand.  That’s a much higher bar, but it’s what the challenge is really all about.

JG