The Truth About Employee Engagement

The Truth About Employee Engagement: A Fable About Addressing the Three Root Causes of Job Misery


This is another great book from Patrick Lencioni. It follows the framework of many of this other books of a fable with the key concepts incorporated into the fable.


I really enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down. I think I read it over a weekend and took pages of notes and even infused many of the concepts into a staff meeting.


Powerful concepts. I know you will enjoy reading it and learning many key concepts. I encourage you to use them in your management or leadership practices.


Here are my learning nuggets or seeds to get you started in your own further research, evaluation, analysis, and self-reflection.


Engagement is key. Period.


Patrick Lencioni once again provides an engaging (pardon the pun), easy to understand, and interesting fable.


He brings up the point that if someone is unhappy or feels they are in miserable job, they take it home and their feelings spread to family, friends, co-workers, etc. As a manager, this can be detrimental to my future hiring as potential candidates will research and hear about how unhappy they are and how the culture is non-engaging and why would they want to apply. Keeping an employee engaged could do just the opposite if they are happy and spread that excitement about their job, the department, and the company. Potentially candidates would be enthusiastic to apply, which broadens the net to reach and attract new employees.


Here are the three root causes that make a job miserable:

•  All people need to feel wanted
•  Need to feel understood and appreciated
•  Need to feel they are part of something


•  Everyone needs to know their job matters – that it means something
•  They need to find fulfillment in their jobs, their work, who they serve and how it impacts them


•  Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution
•  In order to improve, continuous improvement, you must be able to measure it
•  Need something tangible

job misery

Employees who are engaged take pride and ownership in their work. If you want high productivity with a degree of quality, keep employees engaged.


Employees who are engaged stay with the job, retention, which saves the money company. And if they are happy they tell their friends so then recruiting, hiring, and termination will all reduce time and costs.


Engaged employees will perpetuate this culture into their colleagues which then enhances the culture, increases productivity and reducing costs across multi-functional teams.


Too much emphasis on maximizing compensation.


Think about how many athletes or actors/actresses you can recall that are paid very well and who are unhappy (like Heath Ledger or Robin Williams who both committed suicide). It is because they feel all or one of these things:
• Anonymity
   • Irrelevance
   • Immeasurement

You should ask the question: “What is making you even consider leaving in the first place?”


This reminds me of when I first started with an organization and within the first couple of weeks I had an employee who had been there more than 5 years resign. So I asked Nicholas (not his real name) why he was leaving and he said he was moving to Idaho to start a farm. I went a little deeper and asked a similar question as above and got the real answer – he was not being engaged. But by the time I came on board it was too late. From that moment on, things changed in the department. Knowledge is key as now I knew past culture and what I needed to do to change the culture and keep employees engaged and happy.


Empathy and curiosity. These are set of emotions that are key ingredients of employee engagement that significantly help with showing someone that you really care. This is tried and true. I know I try every day to show empathy and curiosity into the business, and where appropriate, personal lives of my staff. It helps us feel more connected which translates into them wanting to be better employees.


Patrick Lencioni supports and says that training is ok and can be good, but often the skills and knowledge get forgotten. Therefore, you need constant and consistent reminders and exercises to reinforce what has been learned.


He also says in the book that ultimately eliminating these things will make the biggest, longest, and most far-reaching impacts – remove and eliminate:
•  Anonymity
•  Irrelevance
•  Immeasurement


Take a personal interest in your employees. This quote is so impactful:

“People want to be managed as people, not as mere workers.”


Humans are made to server others. We all need to help and serve others. If we don’t, then we begin to die emotionally.


Look at In-And-Out Burgers or Chick-fil-A – their employees are young kids and they are all happy, energetic, and it is infectious. That stems from a culture of caring of good management. Their management helps their employees to know how their work impacts others (smiles, fast and good orders fulfilled, etc.).


Great employees don’t want their success to be dependent on the subjective views or opinions of another human being. They want their success to be measureable. Where they can measure their own progress or contribution. That is why sales people love their jobs – they can measure their own success.


Offer and give incentives, but they only can receive it as an “all or nothing” and only when team goals were achieved and team success was reached.


Some great quotes from the book:

“If you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it”

“It’s not what you are doing but how you are doing it”


If you can’t measure it, any job gets old and frustrating and/or boring.


People who are not good at their jobs don’t like to be measured because they would be held accountable. Those who are good at their jobs eat it up as it is like a reward, constant reward.


How does your work impact others’ lives, make a difference in someone’s life?


Manager needs to show them how their employee’s jobs matter or make a difference. Meaningful difference in the lives of others.

1.  Lack of Measurement
2.  Lack of Relevance
3.  Anonymity


How they feel at work carries over to family and friends.


Ask, What is a good job, what makes a job good?


Here are some documents from The Table Group.  Check out their site for more details and additional resources.



The Truth About Employee Engagement




Leave a Comment

Popular Posts

Mentoring a First-Time Manager or Leader

Mentoring a First-Time Manager or Leader   Mentoring a first-time manager or leader involves providing guidance, support, mentoring, and practical advice. Here are some valuable ways to mentor them:  


Leadership Thought

This thought was passed along to me to think and consider my efforts with those who resist change or something that I firmly believe in – continual service improvement.  

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Treat A Man As He Could Be

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Ralph Waldo

Management Is About Getting Things Done

Management is the art of getting things done through people.Mary Parker Follett   In simple terms, management is about getting things done through other people. Of course we know being


How You Made Them Feel

Why did I begin this journey? The main thought I had while completing my ITIL Practitioner Certification, there were so many frameworks, management, and leadership topics and thoughts and I