The term “employee engagement” was introduced into the management lexicon around 1990 when HR (or personnel, as they were called then) departments shifted focus from employee satisfaction toward employee commitment. Employee engagement is now a multi-billion-dollar business with consulting firms, training companies, and technology firms seeking new ways to get employees to find meaning in their work.
For centuries, leadership skill has been measured by your ability to make things happen inside “built to last” organizations. Success depended on your ability to build trust, cultivate long-term relationships, and manage stakeholders. But we are now entering a world defined by temporary, cross-functional teams, frequently formed to work on specific issues or goals, rather than more traditional fixed structures. Excelling will require a fundamentally different skill set.
By Dr. Mario Moussa, Dr. Derek Newberry and Madeline Boyer
Twisting your features into a mask of pain, you dig your heels into the soft grass. A rope tears into your palms. A clear, tiny voice speaks to you amid the many confused thoughts swirling in your head: “So-o-o-o … what am I learning from this experience?”
If you consider ‘disruptive’ businesses with true transformative effects — think of Uber, Tesla, or AirBNB, for example — you’ll find they do the first, majorly important aspect of any business: they solve problems for the customer.
What is next to fall?
The talent barrier is already coming down. In the past, companies offered workers a straightforward bargain: give up what you want to do to do what we want you to do, and in exchange we will give you full-time employment, a title, and a hierarchy. Trade freedom for predictability.
The days when innovation was the sole responsibility of the chief innovation officer or corporate venturing group are over. Today companies are realizing they need to harness the innovative power of all their employees if they want to grow.
“If you don’t like your job, quit.” This is part of the manifesto of holstee.com, one my favorite entrepreneurial companies, and is perfect for a conversation I am having with the head of strategy of a large financial services technology firm. We are in his office overlooking Park Avenue in Manhattan. He’s laying out for me some of the challenges faced by a growing number of firms that are trying to inject a more innovative, entrepreneurial spirit into their cultures.
I’d say I bat about 500. For every 1,000 goals I’ve set for myself, if I am truly honest, I’ve hit maybe 500 of them. I wanted to write a book … and I wrote a book. I wanted to build a successful investment fund … well, that’s still a work in progress. I married the woman of my dreams but I don’t (yet) have the six-pack abs of my dreams.
After putting the kids to bed, my wife and I often have a quick light supper and then jump on the phone – my wife managing her team in Singapore or India, and I with a client in Australia.
We are not alone.
Summary: Sometimes starting at the end can be the best way to turn around a company that’s no longer thriving. Skullcandy’s CEO explains how it worked for them.
The experts agree. Step three in a corporate turnaround involves the painful but necessary “emergency action plan.” Skullcandy (www.skullcandy.com) is ignoring this advice … and it’s working.