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Employee Engagement

I do love the word engagement, it is so rich with promise.   When a couple gets engaged, their dreams for the future are full of hope for a perfect life together, and it is similar when an employee is engaged for a new position.

There are dreams of potential career growth, an improved salary and the beauty of a fresh start with a clean slate.

That first day at work sets the scene, and the most detailed, well thought out induction programs, fall short when the new employee is not made to feel welcome and special from the first moment.  All of a sudden, the honeymoon is over, and there is work to be done to recover the relationship.   The early days are a delicate balance between the expectations held by both sides, and the delivery on those expectations.

Nothing adds more value to a business than an employee body who is wholly committed and working towards the common objectives of growth, sustainability and positive impact.  Achieving that kind of engagement feeds the agendas of management conferences, board rooms and HR discussions every day.

In my time in management, I have found that some people are just born "engaged", no matter how menial the job, how difficult, or how boring, they throw themselves at it, heart and soul.  They look for work, and add value to any job.   Their needs are sometimes neglected, and their commitment can be taken for granted.

However, there is a large group of people who sit on the cusp of engagement, who do above average work, and just need the right amount of mentorship and investment of management time, to become engaged, and once they are, their growth is a pleasure to watch.

And yet, we all spend so much time on the totally disengaged, those for whom their salary really is an attendance prize, instead of focusing on those who are delivering and assisting them to remain positive and fully engaged.   It is true that our conditions of employment in South Africa create the necessity to handle poor performance very carefully, and we should always bend over backwards to be fair, but there comes a time...   The reality is that we need to be clear from the beginning of employment what the expectations are, and the employee should understand the implications of disengagement.

If we cut down the time we spend on the disengaged, and spend that saved time on the engaged, and the almost engaged, it will be time well spent.  And it is so much more fun!

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