This week’s Worst Idea reprises a familiar Musings theme: approaching Employee Engagement (EE) as though you were making up a list before heading off to the supermarket.  It’s from an article (“Nine Tips For Improving Employee Engagement and Performance”) appearing on SYS.COM MEDIA.  Those nine tips are:

  • Population Health Management: A New Business Model for a Healthier Workforce
  • Workplace Violence and Terrorism: Best Practices for a New Reality
  • Stories of Urban Transformation: The Rise of 18-Hour Work/Live Communities
  • Big Data in the Workplace: Can It Enhance Employee Productivity and Quality of Life?
  • Reaching Every Employee in an Organization: Engagement Through Recognition
  • Smart Energy Management: A Win for the Environment, People and Business
  • Humanizing the Workplace: Using Design Principles to Inspire Workplace Thinking
  • Gender-Balanced Teams Linked to Better Business Performance: A Sodexo Study
  • Creating The Lab of the Future: A Shift Toward Greater Agility, Flexibility and Efficiency

The problem isn’t so much the individual items on this bulleted list. (Although truth be told, at least three or four of them would seem to have a tenuous connection at best with EE.) It’s the compulsion to want to break things down that way, since working one’s way down such nice, tidy lists can give one the illusion of progress when all you're really doing is scratching your OCD itch.

The reason that any such progress is illusory is that EE, properly understood, is a matter of institutional soulcraft, not project management.  Is soulcraft the more difficult of the two?  Without a doubt.  Would most people prefer to deal with the hard, tangible steps involved in project management than with such “soft stuff”?  You bet.  

But—not to put too fine a point on things—too bad.  Cope.  It might not be one’s preference.  It is, however, part of the job description of a real leader.