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How does employee engagement really feel?

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

We’ve all heard it before – if you’re committed to a cause, if you’re engaged with it, you’ll go that extra mile for it. But what does that really mean?

I’m a hard worker, surely I go the extra mile day in and day out, right? Yes and no. Yes, I work hard, and yes I put in a lot of effort, but no, that isn’t necessarily commitment or engagement.  

I didn’t truly understand this until I was writing my latest book, and I saw and felt commitment and engagement in a different way.  Let me start from the beginning to explain this. . . .

Glenn, my co-author, and I decided to divide responsibilities for writing the book. He was going to own the core parts of each chapter, and I was going to own what we call in the book, plays. Each play would be a story about how a company acted as a rebel against each of the ten elements of our engagement bridge model. Simple, right? I “just” find great engagement stories, contact the HR person, and they quickly and easily say yes to an interview.  

For a small percentage of the sixty plays in the book it happened this way, but for the majority of them it was anything but this. Instead for six months I stalked, I chased and I harassed my fellow HR professionals, asking them time and time again if I could interview them. So much so that I’m actually surprised that no one contacted the police to get a restraining order to keep me away from them!

But this didn’t stop me. I continued to go after them, writing to them, or in many cases, chasing after them as they got off the stage from speaking at a conference or HR event.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Josh Bersin who I stalked not only at a conference in Australia but in the UK to the point that he said he should probably agree to an interview so that I didn’t chase him in yet another continent. And, by the way, his interview wasn’t even for a play, it was for a bonus interview on our book’s website, so you can imagine my chasing for the actual plays.

So why am I telling you this, and what does this have to do with commitment and engagement? T0 answer this let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I am a strong-willed, confident HR professional.  I have no problem presenting to Boards, and I have no problem (and absolutely love) speaking at events around the world. But what is completely outside of my comfort zone is having to ask complete strangers for help. I’ll walk around lost so that I don’t have to bother someone for directions. I’ll stand on a shelf at the supermarket to reach the top items so that I don’t have to take someone away from their own shopping.

So how in the world did I get the courage and have the energy for six months to get outside of my comfort zone? How did I manage to get sixty amazing rebels (and another twenty or so bonus interviews with people like Josh) to agree to helping me out?  

Simple, I was 100% committed to my cause and my purpose, which was writing “the” best book that we could. I didn’t want to let Glenn down and I didn’t want to let my future readers down, so I put aside any fears, reservations and insecurities that I had and went out there and “just” got the job done.  

To me, this sums up what commitment and engagement is, and at the same time, explains why it’s so critical for our organizations.

If our businesses are going to not only survive but thrive, we need people like this who are going to go that extra mile.They, and only they, will innovate more, will provide better customer service, and will do whatever it takes to help our companies succeed.  

Easy right? Well as with my story, nothing is easy.But as with our book, which is already helping thousands of my fellow HR professionals and business leaders, it’s well worth the effort, and bottom line, it feels great!

To get the first two chapters of our book, “Build it: A rebel playbook for employee engagement” for FREE, go to:


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