Beyond Engagement: A book review by Bob Morris

Beyond EngagementBeyond Engagement: A Brain-Based Approach That Blends the Engagement Managers Want with the Energy Employees Need
Brady G. Wilson
BPS Books (2015)

How and why executives should manage workforce energy rather than workforce engagement

Obviously Brady Wilson agrees with these observations by Tony Schwartz: “We’re not meant to run at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Science tells us we’re at our best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy — a reality that companies must embrace to fuel sustainable engagement and high performance.”

Wilson offers a “brain-based approach” to energy management. He shares everything he has learned (thus far) about how to nourish and strengthen both our own emotional and rational brains as well as the binary capabilities of those entrusted to our care. “Manage the whole person,” but meanwhile manage the process by which each person can achieve personal growth and professional development. Organizational goals must be in proper alignment with individual workers’ goals as well as those of customers.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Wilson’s coverage:

o David Zinger’s Foreword (Pages xi-xii)
o What’s in This Book? (4-7)
o The Gas Guzzler (10-12)
o Engagement vs. Energy (15-17)
o How the Promise of Reward Short-Circuits Engagement (24-27)
o Delivering Experiences (27-28)
o What Matters Most? The Employee Experience (28-30)
o Four Times the Effort (35)
o Science Explains This (36-38)
Note: In this context, Wilson cites brain research that explains how and why our limbic system (emotional center of the brain) defines what we experience as reality.
o The Chemistry of Conversation (46-56)
o Cognitive Tension(66-68)
o Dimensions and Significance of Tension (70-78)
Note: I think that tension is comparable with destruction in that both can be either positive or negative, creative or lethal.
o The Binary Code of Responsibility (83-88)
o Parenting: It’s in Our Roots (88-92)
o What Blocks Performance (110-112)
o Intelligent Energy (116-117)
o Five Driving Needs, and, Family of Needs (123-126)
o Unmet Needs Deplete Energy (126-128)
o Access Points to the Five Driving Needs (130-132)
o How Unmet Needs Can Serve Us, and, The Antidote (132-136)
Note: In this context, Wilson shares his concerns about the disruptive and damaging impact of three negative forces: narcissism, individualism, and consumerism.

o Stress: Demon or Demonized (140-143)

Wilson also provides ten “Case Stories” that feature real people in real-world situations as they struggle with the challenges and the opportunities of coordinating “the engagement that managers want with the energy that employees need.”

Over several decades, I have been closely associated (either as a senior-level executive or as an independent consultant) with several hundred companies and few of them made effective use of the exit interview to obtain the information, insights, and counsel their business leaders needed to accelerate the personal growth and professional development of their employees in combination with achieving organizational goals and objectives. In all of the major research studies of employee satisfaction conducted by highly reputable firms such as Gallup and Towers Watson, “feeling appreciated” is always ranked among the three of what has greatest importance to those who responded. I commend Brady Wilson on the brain-based approach that he recommends and commend him also on how well he presents it. With only minor modifications, it can be of substantial value to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

Those who have supervisory responsibility would be well-advised to keep in mind Maya Angelou’s observation: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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