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No BS Management Advice | Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Employee Engagement Problems? | No BS Management Advice

I was listening to a podcast about an employee engagement and realized you have a bigger problem than employee engagement.


I was listening to a podcast this morning and there was a reference to employee engagement. You know how sometimes you have those moments where the bell light goes off over your head?

Well, I realized that an employee engagement is a symptom of a problem. And the problem is you’re hiring employees that aren’t engaged or you’re hiring engaged employees and turning them off. One or the other. When you think about it, that’s the only reason you need to create employee engagement programs. You made a mistake in the hire. We’ve taken engaged employees and caused them to be “cogs in a machine.”

Do you really want cogs in a machine? Is that what you’re looking for?  That you can hire disengaged people and not worry about it? But, if you’re trying to hire engaged people, you’ve got a systems problem somewhere along the line.

Now, on the interview side, there is there’s a very simple way you can hire engage people  or identify engaged people. And you can very simply say, or have your manager say, “you know, as an organization, we don’t believe in the notion of employee engagement. What we believe in is having engaged employees but not forcing them to be engaged. You see, our belief is engagement has to come from the inside, not from the outside. We can’t suddenly make a person becoming engaged. How have you been engaged in the past? What’s caused you to be motivated and engaged at previous organizations?”

Simple question, but it puts the onus back on them to demonstrate those qualities to you. And if they sit back and go, “Well . . . ” You know where I’m going to go with this so I don’t need to repeat it. You get the idea. You don’t want to hire those people. If employee engagement is really important to you, conversely, you don’t want to destroy your employee engagement with systems and processes and procedures that kind of turn people off.

I’ll say point blank to you applicant tracking systems are symptomatic of organizations that are going to be so bureaucratic and so system . . .

“I know!  I know! But we gotta do this. We’ve got compliance reporting.” Well, you can have them do it on the way in as part of completing the application. Yes, and you can have an explanation for why it’s necessary for government reporting that you can sell the person at point of engagement, at point of contact with that because after all, applicant tracking systems really aren’t engaging. They’re like filling out a form. You can say something there. “This is the last time you’re going to experience this kind of a headache. Yeah, we know applicant tracking systems are awful. However, US government makes us supply certain types of data about all the people that we interview. So, I’m sorry. Blame the government.”

So it’s a simple way and you can do it in a more polite manner than that. However, when you think about the employee’s perspective, they suddenly go, “Hmm, there’s a human being there. Yeah, someone who thinks like we do.” And, suddenly the light goes off that you’re different because no one does this thing about how you can present your organization as a culture, not that has to create employee engagement out of the blue, but wants to hire people and keep them engaged the inside out that from the outside


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1300 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching

No BS Management Advice
No BS Management Advice

Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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